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Imo workers, residents decry Uzodinma’s order on closure of markets

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Civil servants and residents of Imo State have expressed displeasure over Governor Hope Uzodinma’s order to close major markets and directing workers from 45 years old to stay at home.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, who was accompanied by some commissioners and Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser, Oguwike Nwachuku, disclosed the governor’s directive after the maiden post-Executive Council (EXCO) media briefing.

Emelumba urged the residents to stock pile their food items and other essential needs between Thursday and Friday, as the closure takes effect on Saturday, March 28, 2020 in a bid to contain Coronavirus if it spreads to the state.

But most workers and residents, who spoke to The Guardian, decried the move, especially as it was coming without payment of February and March salaries.

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They wondered how they could buy food items and other personal needs that would sustain them during the indefinite closure and stay-at-home period without their salaries.

A resident, Chief Awolowo Nkwodede faulted the order, insisting that workers should have money on them. He flayed the closure, adding, “Asking people to stay at home and closing markets without salaries is inhuman and unfair.”

A former Chairman of the Imo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Fidel Onyeneke, said he was not against government’s directive, but workers should be paid and even given palliative pay because of the pandemic and its safety measures.

Relatedly, the Grand Patron of Anambra State Council of Traditional Rulers and Igwe of Nnewi, Dr. Kenneth Orizu III, has urged Nigerians to adhere strictly to safety procedures as ordered by the federal and state governments and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He said he had ordered restriction of visitors and suspended sittings of the Palace Arbitration Panels, usual meetings and all gatherings involving over 30 persons at the Palace.

A statement issued by Prince Obi Orizu also commended the efforts of the federal and state governments to curtail the virus, while encouraging those who have contracted the deadly virus and prayed that God would bring the scourge to an end sooner than anticipated.

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