By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The CLEEN Foundation has called on State governments to as a matter of urgency beef up security at the entry points into their states across the country to help checkmate continued inter-state movement and spread of COVID19 through community transmissions.
The Foundation expressed concern that despite government’s ban, inter-state travel which the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says is the one of the major cause of community transmission and the increasing number of cases.
The nonprofit organisation in a report released made available on Friday, said security personnel that ought to enforce the ban are found violating same by extorting travellers to enable them gain entry into states.
“As already noted, our observers reported the movement of travelers along the Abuja-Lokoja Highway. In Bayelsa state, it was observed that there was complicity on the part of the security personnel manning border posts and tollgates into the state.
“There were reported incidences of extortion by security personnel to enable transporters and commuters enter the state. The situation is not different in Delta state where there are regular entry and exits into the state through the Asaba-Onitsha and Patani-Bayelsa axis due to the compromising nature of security personnel.
“In the South Eastern region particularly borders between Imo & Abia States (Owerrinta/Okpala), it was observed that the borders between the two states made it possible for citizens to move freely with no hinderance. Transporters in Imo State have devised various means of moving commuters in and out of the state.
“It was further observed that the Abia State COVID-19 Task Force intercepted a lorry carrying youths from the northern parts of the country into the state against government regulation.
“In South Western states, there have been reported cases of influx of youths allegedly from Zamfara state into Osun and Oyo states. The Governor of Oyo recently stated that the challenges with noncompliance with restrictions on interstate movement was majorly between Lagos- Ibadan and Ibadan-Ife Highway roads.
“In Yobe state, North East Nigeria, traders were reported to have traveled to Kano for business despite knowing the high level of COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Kaduna state was observed to have strictly restricted inter-state movements,” the report read.
On compliance with stay-at-home directive, Social Distancing Guidelines, ban or religious gathering, the report found that there was a lack of compliance by citizens to guidelines and precautionary measures stipulated by Nigerian Centre for Disease Control and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The report noted that one of the gaps that resulted to the poor compliance is that, commercial banks provided inadequate banking facilities for citizens thereby forcing citizens to use only available branches in operation resulting in chaos in different bank premises.
It added that there was also a Lack of harmonized guidelines or information to citizens on the timelines and procedures for easing the lockdown and Inadequate training of security agents on policing the pandemic at the different levels or phases.
CLEEN called on Commercial banks and other private businesses should priortise the welfare and safety of customers as they reopen and ensure they do not add to the suffering of Nigerians through their policies.
It also called on Law enforcement agents should be proactive in enforcing social distancing rules, the use of face masks in public and the ban on large gatherings especially in worship centers. In addition, they should be mindful of the fundamental rights of citizens.