A civic group, Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP), has condemned the demolition of hotels in Rivers by the state government.
The two hotels – Prodest Hotel, Eleme, and Edemete Hotel, Onne – were pulled down on Sunday on the orders of Governor Nyesom Wike for allegedly flouting COVID-19 order in the state.
The governor personally monitored the demolition.
The Rivers government in its effort to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus had barred hotels in the state from opening their doors for business.
Mr Wike said some of the confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state were traceable to a hotel.
SERAP in its reaction said the demolition and forced evictions is “a violation of article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party”.
SERAP in a message posted on Twitter said Mr Wike is using COVID-19 to perpetuate human rights violations.
The group, which said the demolition was illegal, condemned it and vowed to take legal action against the governor and his administration.
Mr Wike has threatened to demolish any other hotel caught operating in the state in violation of the lockdown order.
It appears one of the destroyed hotels is owned by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is the ruling party in Rivers state.
“If we can do this to a PDP person, then you know we are not discriminatory,” Mr Wike told reporters. “Whether you are in PDP, SDP or no party, you must obey the law. If any other person does the same thing, the same rule will apply.”
Mr Wike’s administration has taken some other controversial decisions in the past in its fight against the coronavirus, including the arrest of oil workers who were accused of entering Rivers State in violation of the lockdown.
The governor has repeatedly said that the lives of the people in Rivers must be put above business and has vowed to take on businesses, including oil and gas companies, if they do not cooperate with his government as far as the coronavirus is concerned.
There are 21 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Rivers State as of April 9.