The New Year has started off on a strict note for the people of Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital. This is as the state governor, Nyesom Wike has announced a ban on the operation of nightclubs and prostitution on Abacha road and other major streets across the state. The ban was announced in the governor’s New Year message.
Explaining why the ban was placed, the governor said such activities were causing noise and traffic nuisance in the state capital. The governor further noted that his government is responsible and it will not tolerate an open display of sexual parties, street prostitution, drug trafficking, and other illegal activities.
“No responsible government should continue to tolerate the open display and solicitation of sexual services, drug abuse and public intoxication that takes place along the streets and public areas, in nightclubs, lounges and bars by the youths, some as young as 14 years old,” Governor Wike stated.
The governor who was not done also banned night trading along the Abacha road. Explaining his reason, Governor Wike said the measure is geared towards protecting children from the harmful effect of the practices.
He also called on the residents of the affected places to obey the directives as anyone found wanting would be prosecuted in accordance with the laws of the state. Night clubs and prostitution were not the only activities the governor banned in his New Year message.
Governor Wike also ordered the immediate shutdown of all illegal oil refining sites in Rivers state. In a bid to effect this order, the River state governor tasked local government chairmen, especially Port Harcourt City Local Government, to identify such sites and ensure they are shut down.
He also called on the council chairmen and community leaders to identify and report to his office those behind illegal bunkering and crude oil refining sites in their localities for prosecution. According to Governor Wike, the directive stemmed from the failure of the Federal Government and security agencies to rein in those behind illegal oil bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners in the state.
All of these and more were contained in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Kelvin Ebiri. According to his statement; “We have drawn the attention of the Federal Government to this problem and requested for its intervention to stop illegal bunkering and artisanal crude oil refiners, which have been identified as the main sources of the soot pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the Federal Government has remained silent over our request and even complicit to a large extent, with the security agencies actively aiding, encouraging and protecting the artisanal refiners to continue with their harmful activities,” the statement concluded.
Governor Wike’s directive is coming amid several concerns that a deep black powdery or flaky substance consisting largely of amorphous carbon, produced by the incomplete burning of organic matter was prevalent in some parts of the state. According to reports, the emission of these substances commonly called soot started in 2016.
The areas mostly affected are Port Harcourt City, Eleme, Okrika, Gokana, Akuku-Toru and Asari-Toru Local Government Areas. Others are Ogu-Bolo, Tai and Obio-Akpor. In addition, the state government has attributed the soot to activities of illegal oil refiners, burning of tyres, amongst others.
Governor Wike in his New Year message also frowned at the absence of some traditional rulers from state functions, saying that all government recognized traditional rulers as subject to the authority and directives of the state.
According to the words of Governor Wike; “Therefore, the consistent absence of some first-class traditional rulers, especially the Amayanabo of Okrika, the Amayanabo of Ogu, the Amayanabo of Kalabari and the Gbenemene Nyo-Khana from participating in state functions is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.
“Should they continue to absent themselves from state functions or in the regular meetings and activities of the State Traditional Rulers Council, we would have no option than to direct their immediate replacement,” he stated.
The governor also commended security agencies for working round the clock to make the state peaceful. He said the government would from the second week of January commence the demolition of all shanties and makeshift structures in identified hotspots.
He promised that government would take over most vacant plots or uncompleted buildings hijacked and inhabited by criminal elements in the Old and New Government Reserved Areas and that all structures on water channels would be demolished.