Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Peeved by the disregard for the interstate travel ban imposed by the Federal Government as part of measures to check the spread of COVID-19, the House of Representatives has mandated its relevant committees to interface with the police and the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps to investigate the alleged complicity of officers in the breach of the ban.
The House also urged the Federal Government to set up a special task force to monitor and ensure compliance with the interstate travel ban.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu, and nine others at yesterday’s plenary.
The House noted that, after due consultations with state governors, the Federal Government, on April 27, 2020, announced a ban on non-essential interstate passenger travels until further notice, overnight curfew, from 8pm to 6am, excepting movement for essential services, and controlled interstate movement of goods and services from producers to customers, among other measures to curb the spread of the virus nationwide.
The lawmakers, however, stated that “while the restrictions on interstate is supposedly on-going, Nigerians are assailed daily with troubling images and videos of people traveling across the length and breadth of different states of the country, which is a clear violation on the presidential order on travel bans.”
According to them, “On several occasions, state governments have intercepted trailerloads of people moving in the middle of the night and sneaking into other states in this lockdown period, whereas there are supposed to be security agents at states’ borders implementing the presidential lockdown orders.
“Worried that at a time like this when movement is being restricted worldwide there are videos of massive movements of travellers mostly smuggled in trucks carrying food items or livestock from one part of the country to another, this is a complete drawback to the COVID-19 containment effort.
“Troubled that there are serious reports of complicity of security agents who are supposed to be enforcers to the compliance of the orders of Mr. President on the interstate lockdown.”
They expressed concerns “that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has raised the alarm over what it described as increased level of interstate movement, worsened by the dubious concealment of people in food-carrying vehicles.”
The lawmakers further argued that, if the development is not immediately curtailed, it “will further increase the number of COVID-19 cases to an alarming high that can put the country in a precarious state.”