Two Hotels in Rivers State Prudent Hotel, Alode, in Eleme and Etemeteh hotel in Onne have been demolished following orders by the Rivers State Governor Wike. According to reports, the Governor had given the order for both hotels to be demolished for flouting the lockdown order by the Governor.
The Governor had on May 5, 2020, charged government recognized traditional rulers to set up Task forces in their respective communities to enforce the closure of markets, hotels and beer parlours across the State.
Also, on May 7, while inaugurating the State COVID-19 local government Task Force, Wike had urged them to identify hotels still operating during the lockdown and erring beer parlours for demolition.
According to reports in the Media, the governor had driven from Port Harcourt to Eleme with other convoys and monitored the demolitions of the hotels from the beginning to the end.
“I have the political will. Those people who disobey ,will face the consequences “ However, on Saturday the governor announced the names of the two hotels, declaring that they would be demolished for flouting the State Government Executive Order 6.
The Executive Order 6, is said to have banned the operation of hotels across the 23 Local Government Areas of the State. He told newsmen that the law must be obeyed, hence the State Government’s decision to enforce it.
But residents in the State have criticized the governor’s action, describing it as impunity and worse than the military regime.
Some human rights activists who took to the social media, described it as wickedness, sad development in the State, adding that the owners of the hotel should have been given fair hearing.
One of the activists, Chinedu Uchegbu insisted that it was wrong for the governor to act on hear-say, without concrete evidence that the hotels operated during the lockdown.
He maintained that the owners would have been given the opportunity to speak.
Uchegbu said, “The announcement about the offence was made on Saturday and by today (Sunday) under a window of 12 hours the sanction has been executed.
“If I may ask, who tried the offenders? Is demolition the only punitive sanction? If the owners of the hotel were operating in violation of the lock down, wouldn’t have been better to stage a sting operation and catch them red handed so as to punish the culprits”.
“Later the same people will be mouthing gibberish about people de-marketing the state. What can be worse for business than a state that advertise scant regard to right to private property. Quite a pity that people are not rising up to condemn this descent into utter absolutism”.
However, addressing journalists after the demolition, Wike said: “Government has no alternative but to apply the Executive order which I signed before the lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt. I called all the Traditional Rulers and Council Chairmen and told them to ensure that no hotel operates in the State.
“We are not saying it will be forever. This is for now, so that we know where we are.
To reduce the cases and check the spread. Whether you are PDP or not, all we are saying is that nobody is above the law. If we can do this to a PDP person, then you know we are not discriminatory. Everyone must obey. Whether you are in PDP, SDP or no party, you must obey the law. If any other person does the same thing, the same rule will apply. “
Governor Wike reiterated his declaration that no hotel should operate anywhere in the state.
“We said no hotel should operate within this period. Unfortunately, the PDP Youth Leader in Eleme joined others to flout the Executive Order. Therefore, the executive order will be applied.