Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, and Molly Kilete, Abuja
Tough time lies ahead for Nigerians as security agencies have received a marching order to strictly enforce the inter-state travel ban.
Rising from a virtual meeting yesterday, the Inspector-General of Police(IGP), Mohammed Adamu, particularly ordered strict enforcement of the national curfew and inter-state movement restriction orders as part of measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in his national address exempted some categories of workers including media practitioners, health workers and others from the lockdown restriction.
Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha and the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, have consistently emphasised the sanctity of the exemption granted essential workers at daily media briefings.
But multiple sources told Daily Sun last night that at the meeting involving top echelon of the police and other sister agencies, they resolved that it would no longer be business as usual.
“One thing they agreed on is the fact that the current phase is curfew and no longer just restriction. They have resolved to enforce the curfew no matter whose ox is gored.”
With the arrangement, police and other security personnel have been given the power to lock down movement between 8pm and 6am.
However, PTF has assured that the extension of the eased lockdown is not punitive but a bid to further contain and control the spread of the disease.
Speaking at the daily briefing in Abuja, yesterday, he said Nigeria must delicately balance between safety and economic considerations before reopening the economy fully.
“This well considered decision was taken out of an abundance of caution, current experiences from different countries and expert advice. I must add also that we were persuaded by the history of global pandemics because it is replete with evidence of exponential rise in pandemic upon early lifting of restrictions, for which the 1918–1920 influenza remains the most recent example in human history.”
He reminded Nigerians that COVID-19 virus ravaging the world does not discriminate on the basis of status, creed, political persuasion, profession or where you come from.
“Now is the time to avoid any distraction from whatever quarters and all hands must be and remain on deck. On our part, we assure Nigerians of our commitment to accountability, diligence and probity.
He appealed to everyone to diligently comply with measures put in place.
“Of particular importance is the need to obey the curfew, obey the ban on interstate travels, observe physical distancing, avoid large gatherings, observe personal and respiratory hygiene and align with the policy on use of masks/covering.”
The PTF chairman said the two additional weeks should be utilised by businesses, offices, professional bodies, places of worship and educational institutions, among others awaiting reopening to plan and adopt new strategies under a COVID-19 era in line with the guidelines.
“In the coming days, intense consultations will be deepened with different segments of the society including the state governments, security agencies, religious and community leaders to ensure a coordinated implementation of the measures.
“As I mentioned yesterday (Monday), specific directives have been issued to security agencies to strictly enforce the measures. I, therefore, admonish Nigerians to please observe the restrictions in full. I, however, wish to assure our essential workers such as the frontline medical personnel, the media, the environmental health workers, farmers and agro-related service providers, oil and gas services, aviation, the power sector and a host of others that they will be adequately protected. Your obligation is to always carry a valid means of identification.”