Legislature Seeks End To Mysterious Deaths In Rivers State

….As NDDC Director Dies In Hospital 

Moses Ofodeme

The House of Representatives have risen to the challenges posed by mysterious deaths in Bonny Island of Rivers State.

The house at its plenary presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila yesterday advised relevant authorities, including the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to take necessary steps to arrest the situation.

The decision followed the adoption of a motion under ‘matters of urgent national importance’ sponsored by Mr. Dagogo Farah and 11 other lawmakers from the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

The house directed the NCDC to immediately brief its joint committee investigating the dead fishes in Bonny and other Niger Delta coastal communities for necessary intervention of relevant government agencies and further legislative action.

It urged NEMA to provide relief materials to the people of Bonny Island in the interim.

Also, the green chamber called on the Federal Government to establish a Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Bonny to carter for the medical needs of multinational oil and gas workers as well as indigenes of the area.

Farah claimed that the unfortunate incident, which claimed about 13 lives, was occurring in Bonny Island not long after the discovery of large quantity of dead fishes around the Bonny/Andoni shores.

He claimed that the deceased exhibited symptoms including loss of the sense of smell and taste, as well as fever, weakness, vomiting and stooling.

The symptoms were however,  not exactly as those of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as it neither presented cough or respiratory issues.

Noting Bonny as home to Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited and various multinational oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Agip and Elf, he said it was regrettable that the island, which lacked adequate medical facility, could only be accessed via marine transport and without a link road to other parts of the state and the country.

He warned that if the health issue was not contained, it could affect the residents and personnel of NLNG as well as the country’s economy, besides spreading to other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has reportedly shut down its headquarters in Port Harcourt after the reported death of its Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Chief Ibanga Etang.

Etang was said to have died in the early hours of Thursday after he took ill last week and was taken to the Rivers State University Teaching in Port Harcourt for treatment.

In a memo signed by Silas Anyawu on behalf of the management of the NDDC effecting the shutting down of the office, he said, “I am directed to inform all staff that management has approved that the commission be shut down for two weeks from today 28 May 2020.

“Consequently, all activities in the commission including ongoing matters are hereby shut down for the time being.

“Members of staff are to ensure that all electrical appliances in their offices are switched off before leaving the premises.

“The head security is by this memo directed to work out modalities to ensure the safety and security of the commission while director, the administration is requested to fumigate and decontaminate the entire offices and premises in the Headquarters during the period.

“Meanwhile staff are enjoined to go into self-isolation for two weeks as they await further directive from Management.”

Director of Corporate Affairs, of the Commission, Mr. Charles Odili, said he would not be able to confirm the director’s death, adding that such confirmation would come from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

“I don’t have any official information on that; I have not spoken with the family. So, we don’t really have an official position on that matter. If we have to do it, it has to come from the Minister’s office. For now, there is no confirmation,” Odili said.

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