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Rivers State Lockdown Directive: Woman with Life Threatening Disease Pleads for Access to Medical Care

On May 4, 2020, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State announced a 24-hour lockdown on Port Harcourt City and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas of the state as part of the government’s measures to check the spread of coronavirus.

In a broadcast where he informed members of the public of his intended action, Wike said: “Consequently, we have decided on the extreme measure of placing the entire Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas under a 24-hour total lockdown from Thursday 7th May 2020 until further notice.”

Following the State’s directive of a 24-hour indefinite lockdown, one Mrs. Chinyere Barakat, reached out to Mr. Fyneface Dumnamene, a humans rights activist based in PortHacourt and member of the COVID-19 TRACKING TEAM, a subgroup of the ACTION GROUP ON FREE CIVIC SPACE tracking cases of COVID-19 human rights induced abuses in Nigeria.

The lady revealed that she was suffering from a heart disease that required her to visit the hospital twice every week hence, strict enforcement of the 24hour lockdown directive is likely to affect her health and life.

Consequently, the human rights activist and COVID-19 Tracker member swung into action by preparing a letter to the Commissioner of Police, Rivers State. The letter sought a permit to enable the sick lady to trek the distance to her hospital on check-in days during the lockdown period.  At the Police Headquarters, the reporting team’s letter was rejected with the advice that the letter is readdressed to Governor Nyesom Wike who issued the lockdown directive.

Following this redirect, another letter was prepared and addressed to the Governor and Chief of Rivers State. The team hopes that the request letter is accorded a positive review and approval.

The 24-hour indefinite lockdown directive issued in certain parts of Rivers State has continued to generate worries amongst residents and vulnerable populations of the State like pregnant women in labour, extremely sick children, victims of accidents who are likely to get into trouble for not complying with the lockdown directives.

Action Taken

On May 6, 2020, the letter submitted at the Rivers State Government House was received. An acknowledged copy was returned to the lady to use as a move-around permit document during the lockdown period.

pending a further response from the Government.