Contrary to the stand of some of other lawyers, a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Chief Onueze Okocha (SAN) has declared support for Governor Nyesom Wike over the demolition of Prodest Hotel, Alode, Eleme and Etemeteh Hotel, Onne in Eleme Local Government Areas of Rivers State on Sunday.
Wike said the hotels were demolished because they violate his order banning them from operating as part of the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state.
But the Governor has come under fierce criticisms by those who said the demolition of the hotel amounted to unnecessary display of dictatorship and discouragement of private investment in the state.
But Chief Okocha said the action of the Governor is justifiable given the several warnings to hoteliers not to operate within the period.
“I do not blame the Governor for his action because 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,” Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to Governor Wike on Electronic Media quoted the Senior Advocate of Nigeria as saying in an interview on Monday.
Okocha was further quoted as saying, “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 task force 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 task force, so the Governor left with no other option wielded the big stick.”
“We also heard people saying oooh, he was impounding vehicles and arresting people on the roads for violating the law on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas. What did they expect the Governor to do? Fold his hands and watch people to openly and brazenly flaunt what we know are regulations put in place in accordance with law and order”
“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.”
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also said the Executive Orders signed by Wike are appropriate.
Okocha (SAN) advised anyone who is uncomfortable with the Executive Orders should approach the courts.
According to the statement, Chief Okocha (SAN) lauded the steps taken by the Rivers State Governor to fight coronavirus as well thought out and well advised. He said the steps will help check the spread of Coronavirus.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria was quoted as saying in the statement: “I believe strongly that the measures taken by the Rivers State Government, particularly the Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo 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.”
“I commend the government, I commend the Governor for these bold and very laudable steps” .
“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 their own good, and everybody should do each of their very best to comply with them.”
He noted that it was on this basis that the Rivers State Government put in place the Quarantine Coronavirus (COVID 19) and other Infectious Diseases Regulations No. 2 of 2020 which is also in line with Quarantine Act of the Federal Government.
“It’s not everything that is going to be on written law. By the authority of written law, some orders are made, some regulations are put in place and those flow naturally from the provisions of written law”.
“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 well being 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”.
The one time NBA President further consent with the two days temporary lifting of the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas, saying the move will enable the citizens to keep their houses in order and well as attend to medical issues before going back to the status quo.
“Most of our citizens we are appreciate are people who earn their living based on their daily activities, even those who do not, like some of us, also need to go out to get supplies, we need food, medicines and some needs to see their doctors. So, some times, the lockdown has to be applied with a human face and which is why I feel some justification in what the Governor has done by relaxing the lockdown by one or two days”.
He advised Rivers people to be patient with the state government in its effort to contain the spread of the pandemic in the state and also observed the necessary protocols put in place by WHO and NCDC to fight COVID 19.
“I advise Rivers people to please be patient with government and also strictly observe the regulations put in place not only by the government and the law enforcement agencies in Rivers State, but also by the National Center for Disease Control and all other health organizations including World Health Organization, WHO, which he noted is holding the knife as we say in this situation”
“I hope that all of us in Rivers State will do our best to comply with these regulations because what is ultimate is to save our lives and save the life of our loved ones and other relations”