By Dianabasi Effiong
Port Harcourt, Sept. 26, 2020 The Rivers Executive Council has approved the reopening of schools in the state with effect from Oct. 5, 2020.
This was made known in a statement on Saturday by Paulinus Nsirim, Commissioner for Information and Communications.
He said that the Council took the decision at an emergency session chaired by Gov. Nyesom Wike at Government House, Port Harcourt.
According to him, the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku, announced the date for reopening of schools at the end of the meeting.
He quoted Ebeku as saying that all Secondary Schools, Vocational Schools, Universities and other Tertiary Institutions were affected by the directive.
It, however, stated that Council did not approve the reopening of primary schools based on expert medical advice.
Ebeku said that Council also approved the setting up of a Seven-member Taskforce to monitor and enforce compliance with COVID-19 protocols in the various schools.
The Taskforce has the Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt, Ambassador Desmond Akawor as Chairman, while Mr. Rufus Godwins, Head of the State Civil Service and Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike will serve as members.
The Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa and Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim are to serve as members.
The Commissioner for Education, Professor Kaniye Ebeku is to serve as Secretary.
The Commissioner for Information and Communications also announced the reopening of public places such as parks, cinemas and restaurants that would operate within the hours of 6a.m to 9p.m daily.
Nsirim also said that night clubs and bars, Oil Mill Market and Slaughter Market, Oginigba, remain closed.
He said that all the reopened public places must adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols or face severe sanctions.
According to the statement, the Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma, said that the government reviewed the compliance of citizens to Executive Order 16 on the conduct of marriages in the State.
Aguma was quoted as saying that henceforth, applications for marriages must be accompanied with an affidavit stating that there would be no reception.
According to her, a fine of N100 million awaits defaulters of the Extant Regulations.
She added that Local Government Chairmen would be held responsible if they failed to monitor compliance in their various areas.
The Commissioner for Health said that Council also reviewed issues regarding public burials during the COVID-19 period.
According to him, all public burials in the state are to be conducted in line with the Official Gazette of the State, which stipulates that not more 50 persons are allowed at such ceremonies.
Chike stated that henceforth, families applying for burials must provide death certificates and an affidavit that they must adhere strictly with all COVID-19 protocols.
He said defaulters would be liable to a fine of N100 million.
Local Government Chairmen were charged to ensure compliance with the directives in their respective areas.