Rivers and Ebonyi State governments have closed all schools and directed all religious organisations to restrict their activities as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.
In a state-wide broadcast on Friday, Rivers State governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said that the action was taken in the interest of Rivers State.
The closure affects public and private primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
He said: “Based on the above precautionary measures, the state can be described to be at an alert state.” He said to further strengthen the state’s resolve to protect its citizens, all schools in the state are to be closed down with effect from Monday, March 23, 2020, and directed all religious organisations to restrict their activities.
“As you are aware, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has described coronavirus as a global pandemic. This development calls for collective action by all well-meaning citizens.
“As a responsive government, even though we have not had a confirmed case of coronavirus, we did not rest on our oars as we set-up a five-man inter-ministerial committee to carry out an aggressive public enlightenment that will protect all those living and doing business in the state from the disease.
“This decision was taken because we understand that we are the headquarters of the hydrocarbon industry and also a major commercial hub in the country that attracts people from all walks of life.”
In the same vein, the Ebonyi state government has directed the immediate closure of all public and private schools across the 13 local government areas of the state. A statement by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, Ebonyi government also banned all religious gatherings attracting more than 50 persons.
The statement directed security agencies in the state to ensure that all schools within the state starting from nursery to tertiary levels were shut down before 12 noon on Friday 20th March, 2020.
Ugbala also directed the state Ministry of Health and the state committee on anti-corona virus to quickly deploy all health officers to all markets ,rice mills, quarry, banks and other service centres to carry out random tests on people.
“All the night clubs and other night activities are by this announcement closed down. Every gathering of more than 50 persons in our religious worship centers are hereby prohibited . All markets and religious centers must deploy a strategy of hand sanitizers and deploy other temperature checks at their entry and exit places.
“The state government shall meet with religious leaders in few days to discuss on the gathering of their worship centers. State shall also start on Monday the 23rd of March, to do stop and test to all people entering Ebonyi State as a way of safe guarding our people.
“The health workers are immediately directed by this announcement by Friday 20st March to move from house to house to use 150 infrared thermometer device to test all Ebonyians. Government of Ebonyi State has proactively built testing and quarantine centers at Unity square and the boarder between Enugu and Ebonyi and shall build more at all the exit and entery points of Ebonyi State as a way of ensuring that the health of every body entering or exiting Ebonyi State is ascertained’’, he said.
Meanwhile, the Sokoto State government has directed primary and secondary schools in the state, both public and private to shut down for a period of 30 days.
A statement by the Public Relations Officer, Sokoto State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Mura Bello Maikwachi said the closure takes effect from Monday 23rd March, 2020.
The statement further said the measure was in line with the decision taken at the meeting of North West governors held in Kaduna, to check the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
He added that Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal gave the directive which was announced by the State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, Dr MB Abubakar Guiwa as part of efforts to forestall the threat being posed by coronavirus.
Also, Kano State government has instructed all state-owned tertiary institutions to comply with the Federal Government’s directives to close down schools for four weeks effect from 23rd March, 2020.
The Commissioner , Ministry of Higher Education, gave the directive in a press release signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry, Sunusi Abdullahi KofarNaisa,
The Ministry said that the instruction has become necessary as part of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of corona virus ( Covid-19). The Ministry urged the people of the state to continue praying for protection.
Today we the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria and with significant support of priests, consecrated persons and our beloved lay faithful embark on a peaceful protest against the high level of insecurity in every part of Nigeria. We are on this peaceful protest on behalf of the over 22 million Catholics and over 100 million Christians in Nigeria. We are protesting against the brutal killings of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram, and terrorists’ herdsmen who are invading people’s farmlands forcefully. We are gathered here to register our protest against the kidnapping for ransom in every part of Nigeria. We are gathered to mourn the women, children, babies, and men who have been killed by the terrorists. We are gathered to let the Federal Government of Nigeria know that we are tired of hearing from them that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated” even when they still attacked with impunity. Many local and international security experts have concluded that the terrorists use weapons that are very sophisticated.
Our protest is part of our religious obligation to speak prophetically against whatever is against God’s commandment. The killing of God’s children is evil. The failure to protect innocent people from relentless attacks is evil. The lack of prosecution of terrorists is evil. Our Government response to terrorist attack is, for lack of better words, far below average. There have been too many mass burials. Too many kidnappings of school children, of travellers, invasion of peoples’ homes, invasion of sacred places like Churches, mosques, seminary, etc. We sometimes read of our Government sending condolence messages to western countries when there is a terrorist attack that may have led to the death of one or two persons. We commend the Federal Government for doing this. But we are utterly surprised to discover that the same Nigerian Federal Government will not even send a condolence message to families who have suffered fatalities in the hands of Boko haram. We see our President rarely visit or even speak to Nigerians when there are terrorist attacks in Nigeria. The several attacks on the lives of Nigerians are almost a new normal. Our Government seem completely insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. A Government that totally ignores the cries of those who elected them is set up for a fantastic failure. It doesn’t matter which party is in power. Only recently we have seen that some of those in the Presidency have discovered that they can no longer go to some places where they campaigned before election. They are being booed by those who once supported them because these Nigerians feel let down.
To Mr President, Your Excellency, we are here to let you know that we pray every day for the success of your Government in dealing with insecurity in Nigeria. We pray daily for the Government you lead to bring Nigerians together and make every Nigerian feel that they are equal in the country irrespective of their ethnic or religious background. We want you to know that we pray to God to help your Government realise that loyalty to Nigerians, loyalty to the unity of the country should trump the desire by some people around to fill sensitive top security positions with people from one section who shared one religious belief. This is a recipe for disaster in a multi-ethnic, and multi-diverse nation. To President Buhari we say, please listen to the cries of Nigerians. Listen to the National Assembly when they, in a unanimous voice call you to change the security chiefs. Listen to Muslim leaders who call for more Government proactive actions to prevent terrorist attacks in Nigeria and especially in North Eastern Nigeria. Mr President, please ask for foreign help to stop this over 12 years of terrorist attacks on Nigerians. Mr President stop those who work with you from politicising the killings of Nigerians. The bombs of the terrorists do not know who is a member of APC or PDP. Mr President, Nigeria is a secular State, act to reassure Nigerians that there is no agenda to Islamize Nigeria. Your silence is breeding and sowing seeds of mistrust and the longer it stays this way, the more you lose those who could have given you benefit of doubt. Only few Nigerians can defend you with reasons. Only few Nigerians can argue that your silence is not an endorsement of the barbaric actions of the terrorists.
We as a Church do not support any political party. We condemn any form of social injustice perpetuated against the people. The lack of significant actions to prevent and secure the release of those being held in captivity by Boko haram is unacceptable to us. We cannot understand why the Government is not able to secure the release of the rest of the chibok girls, the release of Leah Sharibu and others still being held. We cannot understand why the Government reaction to the beheading of Reverend Lawan Andimi has not shown that there is going to be any consequences upon those responsible. Nigerians are tired of reading of the killing of an orphan (a seminarian) who was just eighteen years old. Nigerians are tired of hearing of the inexcusable actions of the Government in their response to these and many other sad cases.
We the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria call on the international communities to come to the aid of Nigeria. We must see ourselves as a global family in the world. The tears and pains of the helpless persecuted Christians in Nigeria should be well reported in the West. Western Journalists and Western Political Leaders should give Boko Haram the attention they give to other terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, and ISSIS. If the Western media give comprehensive steadfast coverage to the atrocities happening in Nigeria, they will discover that people are dying daily in Nigeria from the hands of Boko Haram about the same way people are dying in Syria.
As we march and protest today, we want all Catholics in Nigeria not to be hopeless. We want Catholics and other well-meaning patriotic Nigerians to stand together to fight this terrorism. We must speak out against Government inaction and poor response. We must work and pray for change to happen in Nigeria. As we entrust our country Nigeria to God, let us also entrust the terrorists into the hands of God. God can change their hearts of stone to a heart of flesh. Let us pray for their conversion. Let us pray to God to help our leaders to have the wisdom and courage to do what is good for every Nigerian. Let us eschew every form of hate speech, or incitement of violence. Only Love can conquer violence and hatred. May God bless Nigeria. Thank you for your attention.
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah has said that the spurious story making the rounds on social media alleging his support for the Biafran agitation was only but a figment of the writer’s imagination.
The Bishop in a disclaimer signed by Rev. Fr Christopher Omotosho, Director of Communications, Sokoto Catholic Diocese, said, he has nothing to do with the said publication circulating on the social media space.
The disclaimer as signed by Fr. Omotosho reads in part, “There is a spurious and untitled piece credited to me about Biafra that is enjoying wide circulation on the social media. I have nothing to do with it. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop Catholic Diocese of Sokoto State”.
The false quotation credited to Bishop Kukah was titled, “Is Nigeria A Lie?”
The respected cleric was mischievously quoted by the writer to have said, “I hate the lie Nigeria is. If I had my way, I will cease to be a Nigerian, because there is no sense of nationhood. Otherwise, how can you explain the audacious impunity of a certain section of this country?
“I want independence from a country that embraces terrorists, and terrorizes agitators. At the slightest excitement, a Fulani man can kill you, and get away with it.
“Those who say Biafran agitators are nuisance, they should know that nuisance begets nuisance. You cannot stop a people who know what they want. Get out of their way. This country will end, unless there is justice for all”.
The Diocesan spokesperson, Rev. Father Omotosho urged Nigerians to disregard elements that are bent on discrediting the reputation of globally respected cleric like Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.
Anglican Archbishop of Enugu (Anglican Communion), Archbishop Emmanuel Olisa Chukwuma, has cautioned against actions that could return the country to anarchy and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to brace up to his responsibilities or resign.
His words: “President Buhari should decide whether he is ready to govern this country with equity and justice or quit office.
“The Buhari administration should note that we cannot continue this way. Things are getting tougher and harder for Nigerians, but it seems that Buhari and his government are insensitive to the plight of Nigerians. The government should expect God’s intervention that could be disastrous if it fails to do something this New Year.
Chukwuma, who was reacting to the Supreme Court judgment that removed Emeka Ihedioha from office as Imo State Governor, said incompetence of the judges who adjudicated the matter and how they arrived at their decision had exposed the country to ridicule and showed desperation of the Buhari administration.
He urged the Supreme Court to reverse its decision on the matter in the interest of the nation’s fledgling democracy and immediate resignation of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Mohammed.
“I am speaking the minds of some Bishops in the Anglican Church that we are very discontented and disagree with the Supreme Court’s kangaroo judgment in Imo State. “We feel disappointed with the CJN who has not gotten his facts correct and we feel that that judgment is wicked and corrupt.
“We call on the Supreme Court to reverse the judgment to avert the wrath of God. There is no way Imo people would have voted for APC with Rochas Okorocha’s precedence and for which the party did not win any seat in the House of Assembly,” he stated.
He noted that the judgment was a clear indication that the results of the election were mutilated, wondering how the apex court arrived at its decision with votes that were more than the accredited voters.He continued: “It is incongruous and antithetical to democracy. It is, therefore, our prayer that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should also brace up and defend whatever they declared as result in elections.
Chukwuma, who is Bishop of Enugu Diocese, also condemned the killing of Chairman of Adamawa State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Lawan Andimi by Boko Haram terrorists, saying the development was an indication that the group has not been defeated, adding that God would deliver the country from its many travails in no time.
The district head of Michika in Adamawa State, Mr Ngida Zakawa, has said that the Michika branch chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Mr Lawan Andimi, is still missing after he was last seen boarding an unidentified van on Thursday.
The district head made this known to a delegation of Adamawa Government led by the Deputy Governor, Chief Crowther Seth, on Saturday, during a visit to sympathise with the people over Thursday night attack by Boko Haram insurgents.
Also, the Village Head of Kopa in Madagali Local Government, Lawan Luka, told the delegation that people have been digging trenches on a road regularly used by the terrorists but the insurgents always return to fill the trenches.
The leaders called for more deployment of security and medical personnel to the areas to beef up security and enhance healthcare delivery.
“We want the army to send troops to our village to work with our local vigilante to contain the terrorists, ” Luka said.
Addressing the traditional rulers and stakeholders, Seth said the delegation was mandated by the state governor to visit the areas to assess situation and sympathise with the people over the incident.
He assured them of government commitment to security of lives and properties.
“The Governor would have led this delegation himself, but he is not around. He is outside the state for an official engagement that has to do with the interest of the state.
“He said we should commend you for your resilience and support to security agencies and to urge you to continue to support our security personnel in their efforts to protect you,” Seth said. (NAN)
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State at the Government House, Enugu on Tuesday handed over sixty five (65) patrol vans to the state command of the Nigeria Police Force to aid its security operations.
The sixty five (65) patrol vans were among the 100 units of Innoson vehicles recently purchased by Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration to assist the security agencies in the state to effectively discharge their duties to enhance the peace, security and development.
Gov. Ugwuanyi who had earlier unveiled the vehicles to journalists at the Government House, Enugu, explained that the 100 units of the patrol vans will be handed over to Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police and Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, among others.
The governor added that another 260 vehicles as well as motorcycles and bicycles were also purchased for distribution to the Forest Guards and Vigilante/ Neighborhood Watch groups for community policing.
Speaking after receiving the keys to the 65 vehicles from Gov. Ugwuanyi, the State Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdulrahman who received the vehicles on behalf of the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed Abubakar, commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for “this wonderful gesture”, describing the governor as “an unassuming personality, a symbol of peaceful co-existence and the architecture of modern security in Enugu State”.
The police commissioner added that the governor’s gesture was a demonstration of his commitment and determination to secure the people of the state and sustain the state’s glory of being one of the most peaceful in the country.
Abdulrahman stated that Gov. Ugwuanyi has given them the tools to work round the clock, and patrol tirelessly in all nooks and crannies of the state “while doing our investigations and surveillance”.
The CP who assured the governor of the force’s resolve to utilize the vehicles for the purposes for which they were purchased, advised his officers and men against the use of the security cars to attend to their personal needs, saying “you will see them (vehicles) on all our roads, in all the nooks and crannies of the state doing the job”.
He, therefore, prayed that God continues to sustain, preserve and give the governor good health “so that the people of the state and country will reap more from his leadership qualities and milk of human kindness.”