THE crisis arising from the demolition of Prodest Hotel took a twist on Monday following a disagreement between the Rivers State Government and the hotelier , Promise Gogorobari, over the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) status of the hotel manager, Dr. Bariledum Azoroh.
Gogorobari, Azoro’s wife, Dorothy, and elder brother,Isaac, are calling on President Muhammadu Buhari and human rights groups to wade in the matter to save Azoroh from being killed with “some unorthodox drugs.”
The state government had in a statement by the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, named Azoroh as one of the 27 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the state.
Nsirim said: “Rivers State has recorded 27 new positive Coronavirus cases. The Manager of Prodest Hotel, Eleme, is among the new positive cases.
“This latest development validates our proactive approach towards the fight against COVID-19. Recall that Prodest Hotel was demolished two weeks ago because the owners violated Executive Order 7, which banned the operation of hotels.
“The COVID-19 Taskforce members from Eleme Local Government Area who went to enforce the Executive Order were brutalized and dehumanised leading to the death of one of them.”
But, Gogorobari accused the government of laying a background to kill Azoroh, whom he said was hale and hearty when he was arrested and kept in government’s custody.
Gogorobari accused the government of hiring “unorthodox medical officers” to write a report that Azoroh tested positive for COVID-19 and wondered why he was the only one, whose name was mentioned among the 27 new cases.
His words: “Intelligence report reaching me indicates that my manager who is now a prisoner of the Rivers State Government has been framed up by an unorthodox hired medical officers recruited by the government with a report that he has tested positive for COVID-19 whilst in detention. ”
He said the manager was being detained in an “illegal” detention facility at the stadium in Elekahia, despite Federal Government’s stance against all forms of illegal detention in Rivers State.
Saying that the current administration in the state lacked respect for the rule of law, Gogorobari recalled that Azoroh was “kept at the gangster stadium facility and surreptitiously tried and convicted with a fine of N50,000 and ordered to be isolated for 14 days.”
He said: “This is the worst abuse of human rights under the Quarantine Act. The Rivers State Government and Governor Wike must be held liable for infecting my manager who is in their custody for over 15 days with COVID-19.
“He was a very healthy person before his arrest. It is therefore medically impossible that the infection occurred before his detention. It is a known fact that I and the Rivers State Government are at daggers drawn over demolition of my hotel.
“It is a bestial act for the same government to convict my manager and now infect him with the novel Coronavirus. It is also known that the object of the government is to kill my manager and his lawyer by conducting some unorthodox medical tracing to the lawyer.
“The manager is currently under pressure to take some unorthodox drugs that are non-compliant with the NCDC(National Centre for Disease Control) prescription and treatment procedures. Furthermore, the drugs have been prepared locally and it is a poison such that if used will kill the manager of Prodest Hotel within 24 hours.
“The whole world should be aware that Governor Wike wants to kill my manager to convince the public that infected persons were in the hotel all in attempt to justify his illegal demolition of my hotel May 10.
“The President should step in now to stop the murderous rage of the governor of Rivers State. Wike should submit Dr. Azoroh to the NCDC in Abuja and stop all further acts in this matter.”
The wife of the hotel manager, Dorothy Azoroh and older brother Isaac Azoroh said they was “more than the eyes can see in the sudden declaration” of their bread winner as COVID-19 carrier.
Azoroh, who wept while speaking with The Nation yesterday, said her husband was not sick was not sick when he was arrested. She asked for his immediate release since he had N50,000 fine imposed on him.
Isaac, who like Dorothy, said his brother was not sick, added that he seriously doubted the report on Azoroh’s COVID-19 status.
He said: “I saw my brother in the Isolation Centre on Sunday evening, he was very strong healthy before we began to hear on news that he has been declared Coronavirus positive.”
Isaac appealed to the Federal Government and human rights groups to help the Azoroh family secure the release of his brother.
Also, the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre said the COVID-19 status of Dr. Azoroh was doubtful.
Its Executive Director, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, also said the style employed by the Rivers State government in the trial and conviction of the hotel manager were fraught with rights abuse.
He said: “Our rejection of Dr. Azoroh’s COVID-19 status is because, from the beginning of the alleged violation of Executive Order till date, the state government has been manipulating the entire process of enforcement of order to suit his God knows target.
“It is unheard of that an accused was convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction in the absence of his lawyer, among other issues
“We are also worried that the manager would be singled-out of the 27 COVID-19 positive cases reported on May 24 and named by the Rivers State Government.”
Although the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewell Chike, could not be reached on the telephone, he was however, heard over the radio dismissing the allegation of plot to kill Dr. Azoroh.
He said it was against the Hippocratic Oath for trained medical doctors to kill or harm anybody, adding that the government was doing everything to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the state.