Thousands of residents in Sapele, Delta State, yesterday, grounded the timber town in protest, demanding an end to the lockdown extended by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa in the state.
The governor had in a broadcast on Tuesday, announced the extension of the 14-day lockdown which began on April 1, for another two weeks and imposed a dusk to dawn curfew.
In defiance of the order, women in their thousands took to the streets of Sapale early 7:30a.m., demanding an end to the lockdown.
Chanting, “We no go gree o, we no go gree,” others chanted, “freedom, freedom.”
The women in their thousands were joined by other residents of the town, including artisans, tricycle and motorcycle riders and others.
“We prefer to come outside and die than to be locked indoor. We have stayed indoors for two weeks, we can’t go to the market, we can’t go anywhere, we are hungry, we will not accept this,” Madam Tina Akpometiro, one of the women leaders told newsmen.
Another woman, who introduced herself as Mrs Oke James, said, “We are hungry and we don’t have food. Let them allow us to go out and fend for families. We want to go back to our normal lives, we are tired of sitting at home with nothing to feed our families.”
A tricycle rider, who identified himself as Jonah Ameh said, “Though the steps are right, we are tired of not being able to fend for our families and want an end to the lockdown.”
Others, who spoke were Sapele-Okpe Community leader, Dr. Vincent Ekariko, and Mr Aderopo Peters, a doctor, who demanded immediate release of food items, saying Deltans are hungry.
The Sapele council chairman, Eugene Inoaghan, who tried to pacify the crowd with loads of security men was openly rebuffed, with the crowd chanting, “We want freedom, we want freedom.”
However, there was pandemonium when the chairman left, with the crowd openly confronting security men with stones, an action that led to burning of tyres and wood.
Reacting to the protest, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said this was not the best time for those opposed to government to pitch the people against government decision on how best the Coronavirus pandemic could be defeated.
Aniagwu said the struggle was not between people and the government, adding that the struggle was between the government and the people on one side and Covid 19 on the other side.
Urging the people to continue to cooperate with the government in the fight against Covid 19, he expressed hope that normalcy would soon return, adding that the live of every Deltan was important and that Governor Okowa was working hard to protect Deltans against the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the state government had concluded plans to distribute food palliative this weekend, as the Okowa’s administration was committed to the wellbeing of all Deltans.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has declared automatic employment for 8,000 youths between the ages of 18 to 35 years in the state starting from Tuesday next week.
Ayade announced this at CROSPIL in Calabar, yesterday, while distributing stimulus package to vulnerables as well as citizens, who cannot fend for themselves due to age, incapacitated or disabled across the 18 LGAs of the state.
He said, “Distributing food is not the real palliatives, the real palliative is in giving people jobs. Palliative which is temporal is for poor and vulnerable who cannot fend for themselves.
“We are starting the real palliative on Tuesday next week, whether you are a gardner or cleaner, whatever you can do, we will give you a job but we can only pay you N30,000. If you know you need it and want to earn that amount, please put down your names and phone numbers , you will be contacted.
“The food will be shared through our traditional rulers in all the 18 LGAs, we want it to get the grassroots, this is not about political party, it is about governance, we will also give to churches and various religious organisations to distribute because they know the people well.’’
Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, has solicited the support of all residents in curtailing the spread of coronavirus, just as he disclosed that the state has recorded steady progression in number of suspected cases due to poor compliance with the sit-at-home order, social distancing directive, and other guidelines by the government to contain the infectious disease.
Speaking to journalists in Benin City, yesterday, Okundia said Edo Ministry of Health was tracking a total of 96 suspected cases, spread across 12 local government areas of the state.
He explained that while Oredo LGA has 36 suspected cases, Esan West, Egor, Esan Central and Ikpoba-Okha have 18, 8, 11 and 6 cases respectively.
Others are Esan North East, 5; Etsako West, 3; Ovia North East, 5; Owan West, 1; Orhionmwon, 1; Etsako East, 1 and Uhunmwode, 1.
He assured that contact tracing and line-listing were on-going in all affected local government councils in the state.
Leaders of Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State have praised Governor Nyesom Wike for distributing foodstuffs to the 13 wards of the area to cushion the effect of government’s sit-at-home directive.
Speaking at Eleme, yesterday, during the visit of the Rivers State COVID-19 Palliatives Committee, the leaders noted that the foodstuffs will help the people live through the period.
Chairman of Eleme council, Mr Philip Okparaji thanked Wike for reaching out to the less privileged in the area.
He said the foodstuffs distributed by Wike will support very poor households in the area. According to him, it shows that the Rivers State government cares for the people .
As recorded cases of coronavirus continues to increase in Edo State, one of the leading governorship aspirants on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the September 19 election in the state, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, has suggested a total shut down of the state like many other states have done to check the spread of the virus in their states.
He said, “I am in Abuja and we’ve been home for two weeks, and Mr President said there should be a further two weeks extension. Lagos State government has done the same, same in Ogun. Even our nearby state, Delta, has done that. On the other side, Anambra has done that. Then you begin to wonder, our neighbour, Delta has recorded just three cases, why have we recording 14?
Also in Edo state, the First Lady, Mrs Betsy Obaseki as cautioned against diversion of relief materials by those shouldered with the responsibility of distributing them, saying the materials were for people living with disabilities, prison inmates, children in correctional centres, rehabilitation centers and orphanage homes.
She gave the charge while handing over relief materials to representatives of various groups, where she urged them to resist the temptation of being greedy and diverting the items for personal use or giving them to those who can afford them.
She explained that the effect of hunger will be worse than that of the Covid 19 in the state and the nation at large if people continue to carry on without looking out for another.
In another development, former Delta State Commissioner for Lands and Surveys, Chief Fred Majemite, has donated food items worth hundreds of thousands of naira to the vulnerable and less privileged in Ekiugbo, Aro and Inene communities, Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State to cushion the effects of the lockdown order.
Presenting the items, Majemite said he was aware of the economic hardship that had bedeviled the people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which led to the lockdown order issued by the state government.
Represented by the Councillor representing Ughelli Ward 1/5, Mr Friday Gbagbeke, Majemite said he was moved by the plight of the people to offer the donations, urging them to adhere strictly to government directives to avoid further spread of the disease in the state.
Hundreds of angry youths armed with dangerous weapons and chanting war songs have blocked the Nkpor area of the Onitsha – Enugu expressway following the shooting of a 20 year old man by a member of police patrol team monitoring the COVID 19 stay-at-home order by the Anambra State government.
Motorists using the road were forced to turn back as a trailer was used to block the road.
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Haruna Mohammad in a statement, urged road users to find alternative routes.
He said: “Be informed that today, 15/4/2020, rampaging youths suspected to be miscreants in their hundreds holding offensive weapons are presently rioting at Nkpor and New parts general area of Idemili North LGA of Anambra State destroying government properties.
“Police and other law enforcement agencies are working assiduously to restore law and order in the affected areas.“
“Consequently, members of the public who are on essential services during this lockdown period, as well as the general public, are strongly advised to keep off the area in order not to be caught in this chaotic situation.