As part of measures to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, the Akwa Ibom State government has approved holiday for tax-payers in the state and directed the Ministry of Finance to work out modalities for its immediate implementation.
The waiver was part of resolutions reached at the State Executive Council (SEC) meeting presided over by Governor Udom Emmanuel at Government House, Uyo. Briefing journalists after the meeting, Commissioner for Information, Charles Udoh, said the decision was in line with the World Bank requirements for giving grants and support to state governments as well as a decision taken at the Governors Forum for grants to cushion the effect of the pandemic on states.
He added that the council also considered a report on leadership training for senior civil servants and commissioning of blocks of flats under the second phase of Barracks Rehabilitation Initiative for the Nigerian Army at the Wellington Bassey Barracks, Six Amphibious Battalion, Ibagwa, saying the project would be due for inauguration within two weeks.
Udoh said the council also received the report of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the lingering boundary dispute between Nung Oku Ekanem and Afaha Obio villages in Onna Council Area.
On reopening of schools, he hinted that the State COVID-19 Management Committee has been directed to work out protocols and guidelines for resumption of schools and make recommendations to the council.
Besides, Chairman of the state COVID-19 Management Committee and Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, at the weekend issued a seven-day ultimatum to ExxonMobil to comply with COVID-19 guidelines or risk closure of its isolation centres.
He said in operating its quarantine centres, the company had not followed laid down protocols of the Akwa Ibom State Government, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the effective running of isolation centres.
“The breaches observed at ExxonMobil’s quarantine centres, in the estimation of the COVID-19 Management Committee, are capable of endangering the lives of not only the employees of ExxonMobil, but also the lives of Akwa Ibom people,” he said. Ekuwem maintained that the state government could not overlook the breaches, as they could jeopardise efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom State Police Command has arrested 121 violators of compulsory use of facemasks in public places in the state.The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Nudam Fredrick, disclosed this in a statement, saying the action was aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, in line with provisions of the Quarantine and Restriction of Movement Regulations 2020.
He said the arrested offenders would be arraigned in the special courts established in the three senatorial districts to serve as a deterrent to others and urged the people to always use their facemasks in public places, as the command would continue to prosecute violators.