Civil Society Organizations in Rivers State have called on the Rivers State government to apologize to Rivers people for misinforming them on the ‘dusk to dawn’ curfew imposed in some part of the state as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The governor had declared in a live broadcast, a ‘dusk to dawn’ curfew in the state only for the commissioner for information, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim to clarify later, that the government intended a 24 -hour curfew in the affected part of the state.
The civil society group said in a statement signed by Enefaa Georgewill, chairman of the group, in Port Harcourt on Thursday that the governor must release all those that were arrested for allegedly disobeying the curfew order, since it was not any fault of theirs.
“We equally call on the Inspector-General of Police to instruct the police in Rivers State to be more professional in dealing with Rivers people. Without being in a war situation, Rivers people are hounded, beaten, arrested and asked to raise up their hands while walking past a police blockade.
“In a time when the IGP has ordered all police formations in the country except for grievous offences to decongest prisons/police cells to encourage ‘social distancing’, citizens numbering over hundred (100) were packed like sardines in police vans/buses in the name of merely disobeying government order. World over, security agents only flog or chase citizens indoors not to arrest them.
“The police were seen taking these actions without any personal protection equipment thereby putting nation, the citizens they’re packing together, and the police officers themselves at risk. It’s our view that the police should conduct short program on COVID-19 for its officers.
“The said declaration of the Rivers State government equally contained a military barrack- style suspension of the Obio-Akpor local government chairman and his deputy by the Rivers State Governor. RIVSCO wishes to direct the mind of the Rivers State government to the Supreme Court judgment on the 11th of December, 2019, that barred state governor’s from suspending or removing local government chairmen and their councillors. In fact, the Supreme Court stated clearly that the local government is a tier of government of its own and no tier of government has the right to suspend or remove the other.”