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Hotel Demolition: We acted in order, no regret — Wike says, warns social media legal practitioners

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—Your act is draconian – Abe

—I am not in a right frame of mind to speak now – Hotel owner

Despite the outrage that greeted the Sunday’s demolition of hotels by Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, the governor has further justified his actions saying the hotel owner unleashed thugs on members of the state COVID-19 taskforce.

Wike in a statewide broadcast insisted that the demolition of the two hotels in Eleme was done in line with extant laws explaining that the thugs severely injured some members of the taskforce.

He said: “Similarly, we acted against the hotelier because, apart from using the facility to jeopardize the lives of our citizens in violation of the extant law, the owner audaciously unleashed thugs led by the Eleme Local Government Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and inflicted severe injuries on our taskforce members who went to enforce the law against the continued operation of the hotel.

“As we speak, nobody knows the fate of the lives of most of the victims of that brazen and deadly attack given the severity of the head injuries they sustained.

“And so, we’ve done no wrong as all our actions were taken in good faith and justified by, under and within the purview of the Executive Orders, which have neither been challenged nor set aside by any competent court of law.”

Wike, who said he would not take issues with some critics, noted that he remained focused on protecting Rivers people.

He said: “Therefore, while we welcome genuine criticisms directed towards strengthening our intervention measures; it is no use taking issues with uninformed critics and social media legal practitioners who, blinded and prodded by sheer politics, bias and hatred, have opted to demonize and paint our lawful and responsible actions in bad light.

“Granted that we may not have totally achieved our targets, but we are convinced that, so far, the lockdown and the other measures have impacted greatly in containing and preventing the onslaught of the pandemic on Rivers State.

“We therefore thank the entire people of Rivers State for the overwhelming understanding you have shown even as you continue to endure the pains of the restrictions on your well-being and fundamental freedoms.”

But the owner of Prodest Hotel, one of the faculties demolished by the government, Promise Gogorodari, said he did nothing wrong lamenting that he erected the hotel to provide jobs for people.

He said the state government failed to do due diligence before pulling down his structure adding that he depended on the hotel to feed his family.

He said: “I am based in Lagos, but I am not in a right frame of mind to speak now. There is nobody who will not feel bad about this. It is a hotel that I built for the past seven years .The demolition of hotels is a setback to the state in terms of investment .

“That was an investment that was taking care of my family and relatives and people around me. There was no fair hearing before the demolition took place. With this, many people are out of job. I did not violate any order. The government was supposed to do some investigations before doing that. And if they found me wanton, then another procedure should be followed; not demolishing a structure like that.”

But a former representative of Rivers South-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly, Senator Magnus Abe has warned that Wike’s draconian measures was capable of jeopardizing the fight against the spread of Coronavirus if he failed to give his policies a human face.

He said: “The demolition and auction of private property, the closure of all sources of survival for citizens of Rivers State without due consideration to their means of sustenance in the name of the battle against COVID-19, are draconian measures that will prove counterproductive in the long run.

“Lockdowns should come with clear provisions for the sustenance of the people, particularly the vulnerable population (the young, the old, the sick and the infirm) and exemptions must be made for emergency and essential services, such as foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, press, medical care, and security services, electricity, telecom, fuel supply etc.”

Abe said even in times of physical warfare, such actions of the governor were classified as war crimes describing power without compensation as tyranny.

The Rivers State war against COVID-19 at the present rate runs the risk of dividing the state into two distinct camps, those who support the governor and will justify, glorify and applaud any action taken by the Rivers State Government no matter how callous and ill-advised, and those who oppose the governor and will oppose every action of the state government no matter how well thought out or well intentioned the action may be.