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Akpabio orders closure of NDDC as director dies

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As virus purportedly kills council boss in Rivers
Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio has directed immediate closure of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC’s) Headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State due to suspected outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement yesterday, its Director of Press, Deworitshe Patricia, Akpabio advised all employees of the commission with symptoms of the disease not to panic, but report to the nearest Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Port Harcourt for evaluation and treatment.

Specifically, the commission directed all members of staff to self-isolate for two weeks, after the death of acting executive director of finance and administration, Ibanga Bassey Etang.

Etang joined the interventionist agency on October 29, 2019 as Acting Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Interim Management Committee (IMC).

The Guardian learnt that Etang was last seen in the office about two weeks ago before he became sick and died at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH), Port Harcourt.

NDDC employees, who had resumed work yesterday became apprehensive and quickly dispersed when they heard that officials of the NCDC were scheduled to visit the agency.

Management issued a memo ordering immediate closure of the commission’s headquarters for two weeks, while members of staff were enjoined to self- isolate for two weeks and await further management’s directives.

It also requested the Director of Administration to oversee the fumigation and decontamination of the offices and premises during the two weeks shutdown, just as directive that employees should embark on self- isolation has created apprehension among the workers.

Besides, the Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA) described the closure of the NDDC as a plot to divert attention from the probe of N40b allegedly spent within three months by the IMC.

NDRA spokesperson, Darlington Nwauju, said the group was alarmed that after the IMC accused chairmen, Senate and House of Representatives committees on the Niger Delta inserted projects into the NDDC’s 2019 budget.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Asari Toru Council Area of Rivers State, Princewill Odiari, may have died from coronavirus.

The Guardian learnt that Odiari, an ally of Governor Nyesom Wike, died at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt.

An associate of the late Odiari who pleaded anonymity explained that he recently took ill and had been undergoing treatment for malaria and typhoid in Buguma, headquarters of the Council Area.

He said as at Wednesday, Odiari’s health deteriorated and he was rushed to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where he died yesterday.


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