Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Eleven travellers from Gabadawa village in Sokoto State have been arrested at Asejire, the boundary between Oyo and Osun states on Saturday by men of Oyo State police command for flouting the lockdown put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Seyi Makinde, who is the chairman of Oyo State COVID-19 Taskforce, had placed a ban on inter-state transportation, except food items, pharmaceutical and petroleum products.
The 11 persons, according to the police, are natives of Sokoto State, and they were arrested in a dark blue Toyota Hiace bus with registration number SOKOTO WRN-49 XA.
Governor Makinde, however, supervised the interrogation of the suspects in the company of Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Shina Olukolu, at the Gbagi Divisional Police Headquarters in Ibadan. The suspects stated that they all reside in Akure with members of their immediate family, adding that they travelled to Sokoto for the burial ceremony of their relative and the lockdown caught up with them in Sokoto.
When the driver of the bus, Muhammed Idris, was questioned he said they embarked on the journey because they were all tired of the two weeks lockdown, adding that a native of Ibadan, who wanted to return to Ibadan actually encouraged them to embark on the journey because he told them the interstate lockdown was not strict.
“We were stopped at different locations during the journey. But we did all we could to beat the security patrol. It was only in Kebbi State that we were stopped and tested for the COVID-19. We were released to continue the journey after the result came back negative.
“We are not thieves as being speculated. We are from Gabadawa village in Sokoto and our relatives are in Akure. We were stuck with the lockdown and when we heard that the government had relaxed the lockdown we moved and decided to come down here.”
The Commissioner of Police, Olukolu confirmed that his men apprehended the travellers at Asejire.
Governor Makinde, while addressing journalists, stated: “First, they are not able to explain how they got here in the first instance. There is an interstate lockdown throughout the country and they claimed they came from Sokoto and they must have passed through so many states before getting here.
“We have taken their samples now. They cannot go anywhere now until they get the results and I have asked my Special Assistant (on Arewa Matters) to talk to Sarkin Shasha (Alhaji Haruna Maiyasin Katsina) and then we will see if we can keep them in that community isolated until we have their results.
“I am also in discussion with the Governor of Sokoto State (Mallam Aminu Tambuwal) and more than likely, we are going to return them to Sokoto.”
Makinde also said steps were being taken to forestall the beach of the interstate lockdown, saying: “It is a discussion going on with the rest of governors in Nigeria because the interstate lockdown was put in place for a particular reason and what we have said we should do, is to ensure that in each individual state, where you have the interstate garages, those garages must be on lockdown.
“If those interstate garages are on lockdown, at least 80 to 85 per cent of our problem would have been solved. Then, you can be talking about hikers and all of those type of people. It is an ongoing discussion and I believe that will be the ultimate way to go for this period.”