The death in the past few days of some high profile residents of Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State is creating panic in the city, regarded as the hub of the oil and gas industry in in Nigeria.
The deaths coupled with the spike in confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the state have given room to fears that the dreaded pandemic might just be on the rampage in the city.
One of the confirmed deaths was that of the deputy accountant general of the state, Cyril Amaewhule, who died at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt. His death was quickly followed by that of the Chairman of Asari Toru Local Government, Odiari Princewill, who was buried at the Port Harcourt cemetery on Wednesday by officials of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) following laid down protocol for burying corpses of people that died of Covid-19.
But what shook the city most was the death on Thursday of the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Bassey Etang.
Though as at Friday, results of Covid-19 tests on the NDDC director had not been made public, the commission shut down its head office in Port Harcourt and asked all staff to self-isolate for 14 days.
Yet there are those who speculate that Etang might have been poisoned to frustrate the forensic audit of the finances of the NDDC that is getting underway.
Port Harcourt had come under several lockdowns since the Covid-19 pandemic scare began in March. Though confirmed cases were minimal initially, the cases have been steadily rising in recent weeks. As of Friday, the confirmed cases were 171, with 43 discharged cases and 11 deaths.
The governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, had courted controversy with his style of enforcement of Covid-19 protocols. He pulled down two hotels, charged two pilots and thousands of other residents before magistrate courts for violating executive orders on Covid-19.