The Northern Community in Rivers has instituted a N100 million suit against the Governor, Nyesom Wike and the State Government of at a Federal High Court sitting in Port over the seizure of cows and trucks belonging to their members from Adamawa State.
In the suit, members of the Northern Community Rivers are demanding the sum of N100,000,000 as compensation for the arrest of their kinsmen who were in the state on a business trip alongside their cows and trucks.
The Court presided over by Justice E.O. Obile, has fixed the June 1, 2020, to hear the substantive suit.
The Court fixed the date to allow the Plaintiff to put Governor Wike and the state government on notice over the case.
Counsel for the Northerners, Eze Kpaniku, claimed that the Governor Wike erred in arresting the traders because they had waivers from the Federal Government for interstate movements to distribute the agricultural products.
Eze Kpaniku also lamented that both his clients and their cows have been arrested and dumped at the Isolation centre without food and medication for days.
Meanwhile, Leader of Northern Community in Rivers State, Alhaji Musa Saidu demanded for the unconditional release of the arrested persons. He said the Hausa community is the worst hit in the lockdown in Port Harcourt as most of their members have been arrested and detained at the isolation Centre.
Wike, had impounded two trailers loaded with cows at the boundary of Port Harcourt, the state capital, despite the 24-hour lockdown to check the Coronavirus pandemic in the capital city about two weeks ago.
The Governor, according to a statement signed by his( now late Special Assistant on Electronic Media, Simeon Nwakaudu), said the Governor also arrested 14 persons in the two trailers conveying the cattle from Adamawa State to Port Harcourt.
The governor said that the cows and the trailers would be auctioned, explaining that a tip-off from some persons led to the arrest.
Governor Nyesom Wike who said that the defaulters were arrested at Rumuigbo in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area, the governor ordered the prosecution of the 14 persons by the Mobile Court constituted by his administration under the Executive Order Six he signed for the declaration of the lockdown.
He also directed the State Ministry of Health to conduct tests on the 14 persons to ascertain their coronavirus status.
He said: “This fight has nothing to do with individuals. The law must take its course. You are aware of what is happening and then some people want to illegally smuggle persons into the state.
The Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor are under lockdown and the law must be obeyed. The trailers and the cows will be auctioned tomorrow. ”
Wike said that the arrest of the trailers vindicated his earlier position that security agencies were collecting money at the borders to allow people into the state.
He said: “You heard them saying that they gave money to the security agencies before they were allowed to cross the border. The owner of the cattle in the phone interview said they have fallen short of the law”.
Wike said that people must be alive to eat cow, hence the lockdown to protect the lives of Rivers people.
He decried the level of desperation to smuggle people into Rivers State, but said the government would remain vigilant despite the challenges.
He said: “From tomorrow, move in. Any hotel that is operating , identify it and we will bring down the hotels. I have the political will. Those people who disobey, will face the consequences.”
Wike said that the Task-force must be decisive to ensure that coronavirus was not accommodated in Rivers State.
He said: “Nobody should come from outside to compound our problems. Then you want to import this invisible killer. We will not that.
“If we allow what is happening to continue, we don’t have the capacity to face it. And there will be no support from any quarter,” he said.