The Rivers State government's spokesman also stressed that the demolition of two hotels at Eleme in Rivers State was carried out in line with the prescribed Executive Order which is already known to all hoteliers in the state.
The honourable commissioner noted that the administration of Govover Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has been firm and decisive in providing leadership in the war against coronavirus pandemic. He argued that the state helmsman “has been able to protect Rivers people, despite the different plots to compromise the health protocols of the state”.
Mr. Paulinus Nsirim gave further credence to the governor's commitment to ensure that the state remains on top of actions to combat COVID-19 as he alluded to a statement by the Director-General of the National Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu who particularly noted the outstanding leadership of Governor Wike in the fight against coronavirus when the former visited the state recently.
The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim quoted the D-G NCDC as saying (regarding governor Wike's handling of COVID-19) “I want to thank you for your firm, strong, committed and personally led response to COVID-19. We thank you very much for your leadership and we need your leadership to continue in order for us to continue doing our work nationally.” The Commissioner regarded the quoted statement as a commendation of Governor Wike's national leadership in the war against COVID-19.
He seized the opportunity to restate the fact that the fight against coronavirus in the state is in the interest of Rivers people and Nigerians generally. He debunked insinuations in some quarters that the fight is a clamp down on commercial activities in the state, arguing that rather, essential services have continued to thrive despite measures in place to combat the spread of the virus.
And, speaking on the demolition of two hotels in the state, which is currently generating controlversies from the opposition camp, the Commissioner declared that the owners of Prodest Hotel at Alode Eleme and Etemetech Hotel, Onne flouted the Executive Order. He alleged that the Manager of Prodest Hotel invited the wanted PDP Eleme Youth Leader, Princewill Osaroejiji, whom he said “came with thugs to unleash mayhem on the Task Force operatives on ground to close down the facility”.
While expressing deep sadness over the death of one of the Task Force operatives in the hotel demolition in the State, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim revealed that Governor Wike and the Rivers State Security Council took the decision to demolish the affected hotels in the interest of the state and her people. He threw more light saying: “Days before that demolition, everyone was aware that the State Government sensitized the people on the consequence of flouting Executive Order 6.
“Having demolished that hotel, Gov Wike has approved that a primary School be constructed at that location to serve Rivers people. This is what a responsive government will do.
“Eleme people are happy with the demolition. In several publications they made after the demolition they have declared that Prodest Hotel is a criminal hideout and a den for cultists.
He threw more light on the fact that Prodest Hotel was a centre for gun-running by the wanted PDP Youth Leader. He said that the controversial youth leader's criminal tendencies had emboldened him to unleash terror on state officials when the hotel manager invited him over.
He lamented that certain political analysts turned away from facts and allowed their political differences with Governor Wike to override their objective judgement.
The Commissioner states: “One question many social media lawyers and their followers have refused to answer is that, why is it that out of several hotels operating in Rivers State only Prodest and Etemeteh hotels were demolished?”.
He argued that even the chairman of Nigeria Hotel Owners Association, Rivers State chapter, Mr. Eugene Nwaizu had in a statement in Port Harcourt expressed surprise because the concerned hotels were unregistered.
He dismissed insinuations that government was out to witch-hunt anybody, but rather was out to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state.
He called on aggrieved parties to approach the courts of law than mislead members of the public, while pointing out that even seasoned legal luminaries like Chief OCJ Okocha (SAN) have said that the Governor acted within the law under the circumstance. He reasoned that the matter was treated just like many offenders had been tried and convicted under the Executive Order. “This is not a lawless situation Governor Wike is working hard to protect Rivers people within the ambit of the law,” said the Commissioner.
But the Commissioner for Information and Communication assured the public that the state government will remain focused and not be swayed by the “unfortunate schemes of ill-motivated politicians struggling for political space at the expense of their people.”
He wondered why the pro-APC media never reported the mass demolitions by the Lagos State Government between April 22 and April 23, 2020. He noted that the said demolitions rendered over 500 persons homeless and stated, “not a single newspaper mentioned these demolitions for reasons yet to be ascertained.
He described the action by the APC controlled government in Lagos and elsewhere as a fundamental crime against humanity which was swept under the carpet.
Nsirim also mentioned the demolition of a night club in Abuja which led to the loss of livelihood for about 80 persons, as well as homes demolished during the lockdown in Abuja. He accused civil rights lawyers and other critics of looking away.
The commissioner also stated that part of the reasons the two hotels were demolished was to protect officials of the state government who were implementing the Executive Order, as “no government `will allow its officials to be killed by thugs while they carry out lawful directive.”