The Rivers State Government has warned that it would soon begin mass arrest of persons ignoring the COVID-19 directives on face masks.
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, who spoke during a live radio programme, also called on religious leaders to set good examples for their congregations.
Nsirim in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Soibi Max Alalibo, said the planned arrest was following Governor Nyesom Wike’s statement that persons parading public places without face masks risk arrest.
He said the defaulters when arrested would be prosecuted accordingly.
He said: “If you go around the State since the Executive Order on face mask was introduced, you’ll notice that less than 30 per cent of the populace are really obeying the Executive Order. What we see in the State is that people just put the mask under their chin, including in the churches.
“The Governor is saying that to grant the wearing of face mask the kind of weight it deserves, to save our people, a special Task Force to monitor it will be put in place. That is the only sure way.”
He said the governor earlier expressed concern that many people in the state were not obeying the protocols of social distancing and wearing of face mask.
He said: “Government will introduce policies. The onus is on the populace to obey those policies. The COVID-19 pandemic has defied medical solutions for now. So, to flatten the curve, everyone living and doing business in Rivers State need to take responsibility.
“It’s important that everyone living and doing business in Rivers State should have the kind of passion that His Excellency has to flatten the curve. He’s desirous that Rivers State remains safe.
“That’s why every day he’s enunciating policies to ensure that strategically, the State is isolated from the national spread”.
He appealed to religious leaders to strictly obey the State Government’s advisories on measures to prevent COVID-19 infection, including ensuring that not more than 70 persons were allowed per session of service.
He said: “Christians need to be role models. If there’s a group of people who should show good example, it should be Christians. When Christians begin to flout government directives, I don’t think there’s any hope for society.
“This is a clarion call to religious leaders. We shouldn’t sacrifice the lives of our members on the altar of church worship. Jesus Christ is our role model. Jesus Christ was a man who obeyed authority, who did not come in confrontation with the law, and the Bible teaches us to obey those in authority,” he emphasized.