Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has ordered the arrest of 22 workers of Exxon Mobil for violating the lockdown order in the state to curb the spread of the Coronavirus.
A report that this is coming a week after the governor ordered the arrest of two Caverton Helicopters’ pilots and passengers for flouting the lockdown order in the state.
During a media briefing on Friday in Port Harcourt, the state capital, Wike said the state government arrested the oil workers for entering the state from Akwa Ibom.
He, however, vowed to prosecute the Exxon Mobil workers for contravening the Executive Order.
The governor added that he would not receive orders from President Muhammadu Buhari regarding exempting oil companies from entering the state.
Wike said he would only receive instructions concerning the release of the oil workers after speaking with the president.
“Security agencies arrested 22 staff of Exxon Mobil who came into the state from neighbouring Akwa Ibom State in violation of the extant Executive Order restricting movement into the state. We do not know the coronavirus status of these individuals.
“Even though security agencies advised that they be allowed to go back to Akwa Ibom State, I insisted that the law must take its course. This is because nobody is above the law.
“As a responsive government, we have quarantined them in line with the relevant health protocols and they will be charged to court.”
Governor Wike noted that the welfare of the people of the state is his priority especially at this period of a pandemic.
He said: “The right thing must be done. We are talking about something that is killing people. They want coronavirus to escalate in Rivers State. The law must be tested. Make sacrifice and let us contain the virus.
“Is this lockdown only for the poor? It’s unfortunate for someone to go against the lockdown rules of the government at this time.
“Akara sellers in Lagos trying to make daily income are chased out of the street and carried to court, but they said we should leave oil companies and allow them to operate and fly.
“As long as they do not enter my territory, I have no problem because we will fight, if we don’t fight, we cannot survive.
“I don’t take orders from Abuja but Rivers people. If they want to work with me they should come, I will not go and beg them. If they want war, we will fight, but I will make sure my people are protected from coronavirus.
“My people wouldn’t die. I’m not against the federal government, what are we fighting for,
but I will do what is right if you want me to work with you, talk with me and don’t give me a directive.
“Nobody can use Rivers state as a toy, If you don’t like me, that will encourage me to like myself. Even my father has never given directive but calls me and has a dialogue for a way out, but you that is not my father will issue directive so you can kill Rivers people.
“I won you in 2015, I won you in 2019, have I not won, not one project in Rivers but you stay in Abuja and give me directives I will not agree. We are in a federal system, but governors have been reduced as beggars.
“We are not in a military government where you will sit down in your office and direct me. I’m not one of those governors that will come to Abuja to ask for help, so don’t issue me a directive when you were elected like me.
“As a governor, the right thing must be done so people must not die.
“Is there any oil company operating in America, it’s only here in Nigeria. I’m a boy to Rivers people, not anybody outside this state.
“The other time it was Caverton, now it’s ExxonMobil. The lockdown is not for the poor alone; it includes everybody.
“They are lucky Caverton apologized, the MD sent me an apology text that evening from America for us to release their pilots and comply with the rules.”