Judex Okoro, Calabar
The fight to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria has continued to gather momentum, with Cross River taking its awareness campaign to border communities in the state.
Daily Sun found that all the border points in the state are manned by teams from the state’s task force team to enforce movement restriction across borders and state lines.
Governor Ben Ayade has mobilised all his aides, including commissioners, special advisers and assistants, deploying them to border communities to continue the campaign to raise awareness about the pandemic.
State Attorney-General Tanko Ashang and the Commissioner for Quality Education Godwin Amanke were on hand to see to the enforcement of movement restriction order between borders.
Borders manned include Odukpani-Itu federal highway, Ikang-Cameroon, Abeng 1 and 2 Cameroon, and Ekang-Cameroon all in the state’s South senatorial district.
In central district, the borders areas under lockdown are Abomeghe in Ebonyi-Igbo Ekureku in Abi local government area, Igonigoni-Afikpo in Ebonyi State, Etung- Cameroon and Bumaji in Boki-Cameroon.
For the northern senatorial district, the borders communities between Nigeria and Cameroon under lock include Amana community in Becheve, Cameroon at the Ranch, Benue State “Branch” in Bebi community, Benue StateUtanga community, all in Obanliku and Benue-in Kakwe, Bishiri North in Obanliku.
Briefing journalists on its activities so far, the Commissioner for Health and Chairman of the Cross River Response Team, Dr Beta Edu, said it became imperative to move to rural and border communities to forestall the spread from Akwa Ibom, Benue and Cameroon that have already ready recorded COVID-19 cases.
Dr Beta explained that the team is working with traditional rulers, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and other critical stakeholders in the state to create more awareness on how to stay safe, especially in border communities.
She disclosed that the state has distributed almost one million face masks and sent palliatives to the communities to cushion the effect of the restriction measures.
Also speaking on the need to lock down border areas, the Secretary of the Response Team and Commissioner for Finance, Mr Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr, said Cross River occupies a unique position, as he called on the Federal Government to come to the aid of the state.
Ekpenyong Jnr explained that the state shares a maritime boundary with Cameroon just as it has over 80,000 internally displaced persons from Cameroon leaving in Cross River, adding that there is the possibility that their citizens could migrate to the state even as they have registered over 300,000, and this could spell doom for the state if precautionary measures are not taken in the border areas.
He further noted that the state shares borders with Akwa Ibom, Abia, Ebonyi and Benue States and is caught in-between, saying “this is the auspicious time to rescue Cross River and make it safe for Nigeria.”
Speaking at Cameroon-Abung 2 border community during the campaign, Commissioner for Petroleum Resources Mr Itaya Nyong expressed satisfaction at the lockdown of the bush road, saying it would forestall the influx of Cameroonians.