Thursday, May 14, 2020 12:35 pm
…Not clear if the state government will support the Federal Government Technical Committee
Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt
The stage may has been set for a clash between the Federal Government and Governor Nyesom Wike administration with the inauguration of Task Force on free movement and transportation of foodstuffs, livestock and agricultural inputs into Rivers during the lockdown by the State Police Command on Thursday.
The Police Commissioner, Joseph Gobum Mukan said inauguration of the Joint Technical Task Force Team on Emergency Response to COVID-19 Challenges on Movement of Food and Agricultural Inputs in the Country was sequel to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, that there should unhindered interstate movements of food items across the country, in spite of the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic,
The Commissioner of Police therefore ordered that there should be free movement and transportation of foods and goods into Rivers State throughout the period of the lockdown.
The Police Commissioner, who is the state Chairman of Task Force Team, charged members to ensure full compliance to the terms of reference while fashioning out ways of ensuring that food items get to the State, while those conveying them can move freely.
The State Coordinator of the Team, Ebinimi Tobin, highlighted the terms of reference to each of the various department and groups in the team and tasked everyone to be proactive for the interest of Rivers People.
Personnel from Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, All Farmers Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers, Nigeria Union of Journalist are represented in the Taskforce.
Other members of the team are representative from Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Significantly, the state government was not represented in the Task Force set up by the Police Commissioner.
It is therefore doubtful if the Technical Task Force headed by the CP Mukan will be supported by Governor Wike
The Governor had repeatedly accused the Federal security agencies of sabotaging efforts of the state government to check the influx of unauthorized persons into the state as a way of curbing the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
Recall that since the closure of boundaries many state Governors, including Wike, Willie Obiano of Anambra, Ifeanyi Okowa and others, have intercepted trucks loaded with foodstuff and livestock with a lot of persons hidden under the goods at the boundaries of their states at different times.
The Rivers Government recently mounted a massive iron gate at the popular Imo River Bridge at the boundary between the State and Abia.
Governor Wike had also inaugurated state Task Force to check the uncoordinated influx of unwanted persons into the state.
A trailer conveying livestock and human cargo (about 30 persons tucked in between goats) from Bauchi State heading to Asaba, the Delta State Capital was intercepted on Monday May 4, at about 9:30pm by a Covid 19 team led by Victor Ebonka, the Chairman of Ika North-East Council area of the State.
Governor Wike also intercepted two trucks in Rumuagholu carrying 22 persons tucked between livestock.