The owner and manager of demolished Prodest Hotel in Eleme, Gogorobari Needam and Bariledum Azoroh, has been convicted and fined N50,000 by the magistrates’ court in Port Harcourt for contravening the State Executive Order on COVID-19.
The court ordered that Azoroh should be quarantined at the isolation centre in Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia for 14 days to ascertain his coronavirus status. However, Needam was not present in court.
Rita Oguguo, senior magistrate, who delivered the judgement on Monday, May 19, said the accused violated Governor Nyesom Wike’s executive order on closure of hotels in the state. She also stated that the accused violated paragraph 3 and 4 of the executive order number 7.
Before his sentence, Azoroh had insisted on seeing his counsel, Godwin Awi, who was absent in court due to his inability to get a pass that allowed access to the court due to continued lockdown of Port Harcourt and Obio-Akpor council areas.
He lamented that in spite of the plea by his client to get his counsel to defend him, the court went ahead to convict him, adding,
“With what has happened, it is clear that there are other underlying issues that we probably do not know about.”
“I do not agree with everything that has transpired today in line with the fact that the Constitution is clear as to the issue of right to counsel, adequate time and facility for an accused person standing trial to defend himself.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Mrs. Ipalibo Harry Banigo has dismissed insinuations that Governor Wike was sidelining her in the fight against COVID-19 and implementation of other state government’s programmes and policies.
Banigo, a public health expert, said the statement from the Centre for Public Trust (CPT) in which it asked Governor Wike to stop sidelining her was done in bad faith.
In a statement issued by her spokesperson, Owupele Benebo, the deputy governor said she would have ignored the group, but that it was important to set the records straight so that Rivers people and the larger society would not be made to believe the falsehood that Wike had relegated her to the background.