My Dear Good People of Rivers State,
2. In the last two months we have implemented several calculated measures in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus in our State.
3. Some of these measures were severe, but necessary, including the total lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas, which are, without doubt, the social and economic never-centres of our State.
4. Arguably, these measures and your sacrifices have enabled us so far, to contain and limit the spread of this virus to 4 out of the 23 local government areas of the State
5. Also, the pattern of infection remains predictable, as there is yet, any evidence of serious community transmission, although this cannot be ruled out with the increasing number of positive cases; the majority of which, are connected with contacts with oil company workers who imported the disease into the State.
6. And so, while we should all still be concerned, since our set goals in the battle against the virus are not yet achieved, there is no need to fear.
7. We are totally in control, working hard every day and believing that the worst will soon be behind us.
8. In continuation of our struggle against the spread of covid-19 in our State, we had planned to resume the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas from Wednesday 27th May 2020.
9. However, after a comprehensive review of the measures we have taken and further considerations placed before us by well-meaning members of the public, the State Security Council has decided to cancel the proposed lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the State.
10. In essence, no part of Rivers State is or will be under any lockdown from this moment and this will be so, except where it becomes necessary again.
11. As we all know, the regular washing of hands, religious wearing of face masks, keeping effective physical and social distance of between 1.5 to 2 meters from other people, completely avoiding touching of faces with unwashed hands, and cleaning of surfaces we regularly touch have been identified as some of the most effective measures against contracting this virus in the absence of vaccine.
12. These are not difficult measures that should warrant any excuses for negligence, non or ineffective compliance.
13. Consequently, we wish to re-enforce our decision on the continuous implementation of the following measures throughout the State to mitigate the spread of this virus:
(i) All land borders, including all exit and entry routes into Rivers State shall remain closed to human and vehicular traffic, except those on essential services and duly exempted.
(ii) All residents must wear face masks or covering into any public space, including our roads, banks, shopping malls, shops, hotels and in any lawful social gathering.
(iii) The State task force and the security agencies have been directed to arrest and summarily prosecute any person seen on our streets or any other public place without wearing face masks.
(iv) All banks, motor parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, business centres, shopping malls, and offices must maintain social distancing and enforce the wearing of face masks in their premises.
(v) The State task force and security agencies have been directed to seal up, prosecute and confiscate to the State any bank, shopping mall, restaurant, shop, business place or office that fails to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face masks in its premises.
(vi) In addition to providing daily guest list to the Police and the Department of State Security, hoteliers must not host large gatherings, including parties and receptions. Defaulting hotels will be sealed-up and the owners summarily prosecuted.
(vii) All bars, beer palours, or drinking joints, night-clubs, viewing centres, open markets and cinemas shall remain closed until further notice;
(viii) Oil mill market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall remain closed until further notice;
(ix) Oginigba Slaughter market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall similarly remain closed until further notice.
(x) Mbiama market in Ahoada West Local Government Area shall also remain closed until further notice;
(xi) All public weddings, burials and large social gatherings shall remain banned.
(xii) Churches and other religious gatherings should continue to comply with the existing advisory on social distancing, initiate temperature checks and enforce the wearing of face masks during their activities;
(xiii) Dealers in Ikoku Spare Parts markets are warned for the last time to stop converting public roads to mechanic workshops or risk final closure.
(xiv) Similarly, no mechanic workshop should be found along Ikwerre road as Government will prosecute defaulters and confiscate any vehicle being repaired on any public road.
(xv) Private and commercial vehicles, including tricycles must continue to limit their passengers to the number earlier established and enforce the wearing of face masks by all passengers. Defaulters will be prosecuted and their vehicles confiscated by the Task force.
14. We have taken these measures at in the best interest of our State, to protect our lives, businesses, and jobs as well as, to prevent our troubled economy from suffering irreparable damage.
15. This also means that, residents now bear much greater responsibility to stop and prevent our State from suffering the exponential and potentially devasting spread of the virus being experienced across the country.
16. As I have stated earlier, there is nothing to worry about the increasing number of positive cases as such is not unexpected in the light of the intensification of contact- tracing and increased testing of suspected cases.
17. As 60% of the positive cases recorded in the State are connected with oil company workers, we have initiated a meeting with all the major oil companies to work out strategies on how we can stop this trend and stop the risk this category of workers now pose to the State.
18. Furthermore, Government is investigating the rumored or suspected outbreak of the virus at Bonny Island.
19. Our team of medical personnel led by the Commissioner for Health has visited Bonny Island and collected samples from suspected cases for analysis and immediate intervention should the results indicate the outbreak of the virus in the area.
20. Finally, our intelligence has intercepted a clandestine plan by some criminal elements led by Bobosky to cause security breaches in the State by instigating violence and burning down churches in Khana, Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State.
21. We want to assure all residents that the State Government is fully ready and prepared to deal with the situation and continue to guarantee the protection of lives and property throughout the State.
22. We implore all residents to be vigilant and report all suspicious characters and movements in their neighbourhoods to security agencies.
23. As a further security measure, we have decided to impose a nighttime curfew on all the 23 Local Government Areas of the State from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting from the 2nd of June 2020 until further notice.
24. Leaders and vigilante groups in our communities are to work with the security agencies to enforce the curfew in their localities and arrest and prosecute anyone that violates the curfew order.
25. As a government, we are doing our best and will continue to spare no efforts to protect our State and advance the best interest of our people. Nothing can scare, deter or derail us from this path.
26. And so, we urge our people to stop the fake news on social media; stop the baseless bickering, the needless blame game, and the seditious rumours that does no good to our image or provide any solution to the common challenges that we face.
27. Rather, we should all come together, put our fate in our own hands and work for the common good of all, whether as individuals, families or as communities.
28. This is the only way to spare our State, our people and our economy from the devastating effects of the corona pandemic at this time.
29. We cannot stop appreciating our health workers who have continued to put their lives at risk in the forefront of this battle so the rest of us can be safe and secure. We cannot thank you enough. Only God can reward you in his fulness.
30. We call on all residents to continue to support the Government and pray for God’s gracious intervention in the affairs of the State.
31. Thank you and God bless you all.