The Rivers State Government has vowed to prosecute 22 staff of American oil giant, ExxonMobile, who entered the state on Thursday in violation of the lockdown on its border.
Governor Nyesom Wike, who made the avowal on Friday morning, said the state was prepared to test the laws on its ability to shut its borders and protect the lives of its people against the widespread COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking to newsmen at the Government House Port Harcourt, Wike said the 22 staff would be taken to court and made to face the law like he did to two pilots and passengers of Caverton Helicopter.
According to the governor “ExxonMobil brought in 22 persons without telling us so that they can be quarantined and tested. I will fight this on my own; the security agencies have orders from Abuja (not to be involved) but we will go to court
“We (Rivers) and ExxonMobil, we will test the law; the law must be tested. We will do same thing to ExxonMobil as we did to Caverton Helicopter. They will not be treated differently, just because they are a foreign company and the other a Nigerian company.
“These people don’t want to respect the laws just because they are ExxonMobil but this will expose those in Abuja because nobody can use Rivers as you. They should not kill Rivers people because they hate Wike.”
He flayed persons and unions who have taken up the state on the face-off with the indigenous air shuttle company insisting “law is not practiced on the pages of newspapers, but in court.”
He alluded to an alleged conspiracy to infect and kill people of the state with the virus, adding, “People in Abuja are not happy (because of the law infection rate in Rivers state). They are not happy that there are no reports of new cases every day.”
But the management of the oil giant in a email from its Manager, Media and Communication Oge Udeagha, said: “We are working with Rivers state government to resolve a transportation misunderstanding.”
“As always, wherever we operate, we comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulation.”