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Wike suspends Rivers LG boss over coronavirus fight

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• 35 returnees, others under strict surveillance
• Heavy traffic in markets as residents race to meet gov’s deadline
•Jubilation as 1,331 get FG’s N5,000 monthly stipend

Governor Nyesom Wike has suspended the chairman of Abua/Odual Council of Rivers State, Opelia Daniel, from office for lack of commitment in the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The governor announced the one-month suspension at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday while inaugurating a 33-man committee to purchase foodstuff from farmers and fishermen for distribution to Rivers people.

He also said that his government would not wait for the Federal Government before providing palliatives for the people, while checking the spread of COVID-19.

“We are not waiting for the Federal Government to assist us. We are making the right sacrifices to promote the welfare of our people.”

He directed the committee to work for Rivers people by deploying the allocated funds for the good of the people.

Wike said his administration’s goal was to ensure that no agricultural produce like yam, garri, plantain, palm oil and fish left the state during the lockdown.

In the same vein, as the state records the second COVID-15 case, the government has placed 35 persons who returned to the state from impacted countries under strict surveillance.

The Commissioner for Health, Professor Princewill Chike, said contact-tracing of all those who came in contact with a 63-year-retiree who tested positive for COVID-19 in Port Harcourt yesterday had commenced and samples collected from high risk contacts for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis.

Chike explained that the sexagenarian had spent about a month in the United Kingdom (UK) and returned to Nigeria through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, on March 20, 2020.

According to him, the man returned to his home in Port Harcourt the next day via Aero Contractors flight, and has been on self-isolation under the state surveillance system in his family home.

Meanwhile, there was heavy traffic in markets in the state yesterday, as residents trooped out to buy food as government announced on Sunday that all markets in the state would operate between 7am and noon on April 7 and 8, to allow residents shop for Easter.

The governor ordered closure of all markets from March 28, 2020 when he confirmed the first case of coronavirus in the state.

The Guardian findings revealed that the markets were filled up with the normal pushing and shoving of shoppers, ignoring the social distancing directive.

There was jubilation in Okrika Council yesterday as 1,331 persons received between 20,000 to N30,000 each from the Federal Government’s monthly stipend of N5,000.

The Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had in September last year commenced payment of N5,000 monthly stipend to the poorest and most vulnerable in Rivers through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programme (SIP).

The payment is done in two circles: beneficiaries get N10,000 for two months.

But according to the National Cash Transfer Officer of the Programme, Okulola Ademola, the beneficiaries in Okirika received only September to December payment as the January to April payment, which was paid yesterday, was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He said that government covered only about 30 per cent enrolment in Rivers, adding that the next batch would cover about 50 per cent while the final batch would be 20 per cent, thus covering the 23 councils of the state.


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