Threatens to shut down state again over violation of guidelines
By Chioma Onuegbu, Uyo
GOVERNOR Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has lifted the ban on burials and wedding ceremonies in the state beginning from Saturday, July 4, 2020.
Emmanuel who announced this during the routine interactive session with the citizens aired by state-owned Radio and television stations Thursday evening however gave strict guidelines to be followed while holding such ceremonies especially social distancing and wearing of the facemask.
He warned that anybody who fails to adhere strictly to those guidelines and precautionary measures which were outlined by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) for the opening of social gatherings in the state would be arrested.
He appealed to the citizens to encourage the government not to continue to spend much in managing the COVID-19 pandemic by obeying the simple guidelines and warned that he would not hesitate to shut down the state again if residents fail to obey the guidelines.
His words, “Let me announce here that we will allow weddings, burials effective from Saturday, July 4. We will allow people to bury their loved ones because the mortuaries are getting fuller. But if you are doing a funeral in an open space, you must take a maximum of 50 people. If you want to do it inside the Church please let it not be more than 30 people.
“So we have come to an understanding that we cannot bury our loved ones the way we used to. I know how we celebrate burials, but please let’s look at the situation at hand that we are trying to manage. For those who want to do a wedding, we will allow you to do it, but please follow the same guideline.
“You must adhere to all those guidelines outlined by the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN) Akwa Ibom State branch. The primary aim of every single guideline rolled out by the government is to protect the lives of the citizens and residents.
“We will send out our monitoring team to enforce compliance. If you don’t comply I will arrest you. And please don’t call us a bad name because you want to be above the Law. Nobody is above the law.
“Let me also warn here that if you must go out, wear a face mask. If you don’t want to wear a mask, please stay at home. I don’t want us to get to a point where we are overwhelmed by the situation. If we discover that people are not obeying the simple guidelines we will not hesitate to shut down the state again.
The governor reiterated his appreciation to front line health workers, security agents, all stakeholders in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the citizens, for their understanding and cooperation at this point.
Emmanuel who prayed that the situation does not overwhelm the state as the influx of people into the state would increase now that the interstate borders have opened, and especially appealed to the citizens and residents to obey all the guidelines to protect themselves and their families from being infected by the deadly virus.
He expressed concern that the state currently needed to replenish some of the medications that have finished, adding, “and some of the drugs are not manufactured in Nigeria. So managing this situation is very, very expensive.
” It has been a very challenging time for us and we are praying and hoping that the situation will return to normal. And as I am talking today I am yet to receive one naira from the federal government to support us in this fight against COVID-19 pandemic”.
He also reiterated that the ban on importation of livestock was still in force until further notice, stressing, “These are measures we use to check certain things. As a Chief Security Officer of the State, I have explained this severally why I had to make those decisions”.
On reopening of Schools, governor Emmanuel disclosed that the situation of the state would be assessed during a special State Executive Council meeting on Friday, July 3, 2020.
“This is not the time to copy anybody, you must localise your situation because that person you want to copy might be doing the wrong thing. If after our assessment we see that we cannot open Schools the same time others are opening, we will keep the schools closed in the meantime”, the governor asserted.