Obinna Odogwu, Awka and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu
Leaders of communities in Anambra State operating under the aegis of Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), yesterday, expressed anger over the ‘shipment of strange persons’ from the north to the South East.
They said it was wicked for some ‘desperate persons’ to hide some youths from the north in-between animals or goods in trucks and move them to the South East at a time the country was grappling with the COVID-19 challenges.
National President of ASATU, Chief Alex Onukwue, at a press briefing in Awka, said the act was already generating tension and fear in the region and posing security risks to the people.
“It is no longer news that in recent weeks, truckloads of persons who may be carriers of COVID-19 have been intercepted by security operatives in various parts of the South East – Enugu, Abia, Anambra, etc.
“Just yesterday, a truck with registration number MDR 148 XA was intercepted in Awka loaded with no less than 33 persons from Plateau State going to Onitsha. This is completely unacceptable to Ndi Anambra and the rest of the South East and it must stop forthwith.”
ASATU cautioned that if the trend was not stopped immediately, the people of Anambra State and the South East would have to “confront the situation with the seriousness it deserves.
“Whoever is behind this wickedness must refrain from doing so immediately as the communities of Anambra State can no longer fold their hands and watch on as our lives are being threatened by the mischievous inclinations of some unpatriotic citizens who can go as far as hiding human beings between animals and bags of cement or whatever and smuggle them from their northern parts of the country down to Anambra and the South East.
“We wish to warn that should this callous business of shipping strange persons continue, Almajirai or not, from the north or elsewhere to Anambra State in the light of COVID-19 restrictions, the communities of Anambra State will be left with no choice than to confront the situation with the seriousness it deserves. We can no longer take it as child’s play,” ASATU declared.
Following heightened tension in the South East over the continued influx, religious leaders yesterday charged governors to rise up and defend their territory.
They expressed concerns that irrespective of the ban on interstate movement place, there has been increase in movement of northern youths.
Archbishop of Enugu Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, who spoke on behalf of other religious leaders in the zone, said they were uncomfortable with the silence of the Federal Government hence their call on the youths and people of the zone to be battle ready in case there was a negative motive for the influx.
Chukwuma made reference to a video clip of two fully loaded buses conveying some northern youths through a bush path that were intercepted at the boundary between Enugu and Benue which had gone viral. The occupants claimed they were coming from Zaki Ibiam to Obolloafor in Enugu State, but could not explain their mission and why they decided to move in such large number even with the restriction on interstate movement, when interviewed.
“We the church leaders in South East are expressing concern as regards this suspicious movement of Almajirai or Fulani all the way from the North passing through the boundaries that are supposed to be closed into the South East and we are wondering if this lockdown ordered by the president and governors does not affect them or what?”