Residents of parts of Port Harcourt were forced off the streets on Tuesday by security personnel as Gov. Nyesom Wike imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in parts of the state.
Residents who went out as early as 6 am were driven back by security personnel in Obiri-Ikwerre Junction (Ozuoba, Rumualogu) – Choba and from Education Bus Stop – Agip Junction.
Some residents in the affected areas told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they woke up to see that stern-looking security personnel had taken over their streets.
“Anybody who ventured to go out was driven back except those who can identify themselves as essential workers,’’ Pius Edemeka, a resident of Ikwere Road said.
NAN reports that Wike had in a statewide broadcast on Monday night announced that the curfew followed violations of the market closure order by the State Government.
The state government’s order is part of preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The governor said that the State Security Council reached the decision after monitoring compliance with the directive.
According to the governor, all beer parlours and public drinking joints have been closed because “they have suddenly become an extension of night clubs that were earlier shut down’’.
He stated that any beer parlour or public drinking joint found to be open would be acquired by the state government.
Wike said: “All landlords are advised to warn their tenants who use their property as beer parlours or public drinking joints to adhere to this directive.
“Traditional Rulers, Youth Leaders and Community Development Committees are to ensure that beer parlours and public drinking joints in their areas remain closed. Any Traditional Ruler who allows markets to be open in his domain will be deposed.
“Government is investigating the illegal operation of markets at night at Woji and Elelenwo Communities. Further violation by residents of these two communities will attract the declaration of curfew.’’
Wike said further violation of the directive for markets to remain closed would attract a state-wide curfew.
He also announced waivers to different categories of persons in view of the directive of the state government.
“They include Medical and Pharmaceutical Personnel, Food and Beverages, Essential Oil and Gas Staff, Petroleum Products and Media Workers and Newspaper Distributors.
“All these categories of staff must identify themselves with valid identity cards,’’ Wike said.
Wike stated that based on suggestions by well-meaning Rivers people, government was considering to set up food markets across the state.
He also announced the immediate suspension of the Council Chairman of Obio/Akpor Local Government Area and his Deputy for failing to implement government’s directive on the closure of markets.
He said: “Let me reiterate that this government will continue to do what is right no matter who is involved. As you are all aware, no conventional war has grounded global life and economy like coronavirus.
“Everybody is affected. Therefore, all hands must be on deck to defeat coronavirus. I want to sincerely express my heartfelt gratitude to our health professionals on the frontline of this fight.
“Let me also thank all the security agencies, individuals and organisations who are collaborating with us to make Rivers State safe.
“I am confident that with our collective resolve our dear state will contain the spread of this virus.”