~Enugu and Ebonyi new COVID-19 cases are returnees despite both states’ borders closed. ~Police, military extort at COVID-19 checkpoints-The Guardian ~Gov. Ugwuanyi directs Council Chairmen, Councilors, Neighborhood Watch Groups, Youths, others to man land boundaries. ~Gov. Willie Obiano drafts personal aides to go man the state borders.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, various state governors in across the 36 states of the federation ordered for total closure of their respective state’s borders with many of them placing emphasis on their land borders.
The Governors Enugu and Ebonyi were among those who called for total border closure and restriction of Inter-State vehicular movements.
Enugu State Government had On March 31, 2020 following the confirmation of two COVID-19 cases in the state ordered the closure of all land borders and inter-state transportation until further notice.
Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State had also in the same vein ordered for a total closure of the state’s boundaries with other states. This announcement of land border closure comes at a time the state has not recorded any COVID-19 case.
Men of the Nigerian Police were deployed to the borders to ensure total compliance with the state government’s directives to stop inter-state human and vehicular movements.
However things took a different turn as both states recorded new cases which were people who returned to the respective states (Enugu And Ebonyi) from other states at time the borders were closed.
Enugu State Governemt announced a new confirmed case in the state on 29th April 2020 in a person who had just returned into the state during the time the state’s borders were closed.
According to the state’s Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ikechukwu Obi, “The confirmed case reportedly travelled out of Enugu on the 28th of March, 2020, and returned from Jos, Plateau State, two weeks ago on April 14.
“The case reportedly developed symptoms on Tuesday, April 21, and reported to a frontline health centre in the state on Saturday, April 25.”
In the same vein Ebonyi State Govt announced their second confirm case in the state on April 29, 2020. Ebonyi State Commissioner for Health, Daniel Umezuruike said “It is actually a case of a 27-year-old male who was coming back from Asaba to Ebonyi state with his seven months pregnant wife and a made and on Sunday, the bus that was carrying them, stopped them at Ishieke junction in Ebonyi local government area of the state.”
This brings us to the burning question: How did these corona virus patients pass through different state borders?
These new cases in the states confirmed the several reports making rounds online that security agents mounted at the border were collecting varying amount of money to allow motorists and commuters into the various states that has closed their borders.
In an article tittled, ‘How police, military extort at COVID-19 checkpoints’ written by and published on The Guardian Nigeria’s website on April 7 2020, alleged that men of the Nigeria Police Force were deployed to man states’ closed borders in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Umuahia, Jalingo, Oyo, Osun, Imo and other towns were extorting motorists and allowing them access to cross the closed borders.
According to the article, “The police and other security agencies have been accused of profiteering from the lockdown put in place to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Some residents in Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Umuahia, Jalingo and other major towns told The Guardian yesterday that rather than enforce the restriction, the operatives, including military and immigration personnel, were helping themselves to pecuniary gains. “
Some State Governors angered by the development took drastic actions even to extent of appointing civilians to man their respective borders. The Action many has described as “caused by breach of trust between the state governments and the Police” .
In a circular published on the Enugu States Official Website titled “ COVID-19 lockdown: Gov. Ugwuanyi directs Council Chairmen, Councilors, Neighborhood Watch Groups, Youths, others to man land boundaries” Gov Ugwuanyi directed all the 17 Local Government Council Chairmen “to mobilize all Development Center Administrators, Councilors, Traditional Rulers and Presidents General of Communities as well as Neighborhood Watch Groups and Youth Leaders within their jurisdiction to man the borders of their local Government Council Areas that are contiguous with other States”.
Apart of the circular reads “Following reports that persons on non-essential duties have continued to traverse the boundaries of Enugu State “with the tacit support of some unscrupulous persons” despite the state government’s COVID-19 Containment Order (Executive Order No. 1 of 2020) in force, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has directed all the 17 Local Government Council Chairmen “to mobilize all Development Center Administrators, Councilors, Traditional Rulers and Presidents General of Communities as well as Neighborhood Watch Groups and Youth Leaders within their jurisdiction to man the borders of their local Government Council Areas that are contiguous with other States”.
Anambra State was not left out as Gov. Willie Obiano drafted drafted his personal aides to go man the state borders.
In an official document released by the state government on Thursday titled “Special posting of political appointees to critical border locations to help enforce border closure special assistants to the governor“., Governor Obiano drafted a list of some of his low cadre aides and inducted them into borders personnel as extra securities.
According to a circular released by the Anambra state govt, all these SAs are to patrol the state borders from 6pm in the evening to 6am in the morning, starting from today May 1st.
From the action of these governors can we safely say that the governors are losing (or has lost) confidence on the on the Nigeria Police Force and other security agency deployed to man the borders?
If yes, can we also safely say that the Governors are afraid to tell the police that they have failed in their duty to man the closed borders?
Could the deployment of civilians to man borders already manned by the police be an indication that the Police has failed the governors hence the need for them (the governors) to deploy civilians?
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