Former President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN) has defended the actions of Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, including his recent demolition of two hotels in the state, saying the governor acted appropriately.
Okocha advised persons uncomfortable with the Executive Orders which the governor relied on to pull down the two hotels, to approach the courts.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, Okocha lauded the steps taken by the governor to fight coronavirus insisting they were designed to check the spread of the virus.
He said: “I believe strongly that the measures taken by the Rivers State Government, particularly the Governor, Nyesom Wike are well thought out, well advised and I believe that they will to a large extent help us to avoid or at least minimize to the barest level the spread of this coronavirus that they now say causes the illness they called COVID 19.
“And the Executive Orders put in place by the state governor are appropriate. Everybody accepts that they are calculated to secure our safety and to reduce to the barest minimum the spread of this coronavirus. So I don’t believe that anybody has quarreled with any of these orders.
“What I have heard are people flouting those orders and Nigerians sometimes do not understand, some of these measures put in place, some of these regulations, these laws and orders are for there own good, and everybody should do each of their very best to comply with them.”
He said the state’s Quarantine Coronavirus (COVID 19) and other Infectious Diseases Regulations No. 2 of 2020 was in line with Quarantine Act of the Federal Government.
“This is why the Rivers State Government passed a law recently and we also have the Federal Act, Quarantine Act and many other such regulations that are aimed at dealing with safety and security and then health and wellbeing of the people.
“So, anybody that is arguing that the Executive Orders are unconstitutional should know his options.
“He should seek legal advice and if necessary go and challenge those orders in a court of law, duly constituted.”
On the demolition of Prodest Hotel, Alode, Eleme and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne in Eleme Local Government Area, Okocha justified the actions of the governor.
He said: “I do not blame the governor for his action because I am aware that the regulation was put in place over two weeks ago for hoteliers and those operating drinking parlours and entertainment centres to close down at least temporarily until we get grip on how to deal this coronavirus pandemic.
“Now people have been making all kinds if comments, the press and I have heard some on the airwaves. They do not seem to know the full facts of the matter”
“Yes, there was a regulation put in place long before now regarding the lockdown we have had in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas. I hear that this happened in Eleme Local Government Area.
“Two hotels and they were warned to stop operating. Indeed, a taskforce was sent to remind them about the Executive Order put in place by the governor and they got their thugs and some local boys to beat members of the taskforce, so the Governor left with no other option wielded the big stick.
“So, the governor I think was justified in wielding the big stick on the hoteliers and anybody who feels that he has any reason to dispute should approach the appropriate quarters and let’s us see how far that approach will get him.”