More than 700 people, including Almajiri school children have been apprehended and sent back to the North by security operatives in Edo, Enugu, Abia, Cross River States since Monday this week. The repatriation is a result of the Federal government inter state lockdown to check the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
Over 66 youths of Northern origin clandestinely travelling in heavy duty trailers were apprehended at the Ewu Flour Mill Axis of the Benin Auchi Express Road in Edo State, according to Radioesannews.
The report said they were apprehended yesterday, 7th May 2020, and escorted back to the Okpella axis of the Edo State boundary with Kogi State.
On Wednesday, 6th May, over 100 boys were also arrested at Irrua. They were also travelling in trailers and trucks. The same night, another group travelling in motorbikes were also apprehended.
This is a worrisome trend considering the nation wide restriction on inter- state travelling and the fact that they are coming from the northern part enrout the south.
Also note that even the northern state have started repatriating this homeless youths back to their states of origin. Then why the massive influx from their Homeland towards the south?
Commenting on the development, Engr Fidelis Edokpa, president of Ewu Progress Foundation (EPF), a community development organization in Ewu, the border community between Edo Central and Edo North, lamented the nonchalant attitude of the Chairman of Etsako West LGA whose territories these migrants passed through before reaching Ewu.
In his words, “the chairman of Etsako West LGA is frustrating the efforts of the Governor in securing the state against security and health hazards. He ought to mobilize the security architecture at his disposal to combat this harmful migration. The Etsako Vigilantes are well organized and with proper coordination, they can prevent this influx”, he said.
Furthermore, Engr Edokpa implored the Edo State governor to call the Etsako West LGA Chairman to order.
In a related development, the Enugu State government on Thursday intercepted and turned back nine busloads of almajiri children following a failed attempt to sneak them into the state.
Dislodged from the North, as governors in the region moved urgently to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, reports of the pupils trying to find new havens in the South have been prevalent.
Security operatives alongside council chairmen and youths stopped about three hundred pupils around the Enugu-Benue boundaries, particularly at Udenu, Igbo-Eze North and Nsuka Local Government Area.
Abia State had on Tuesday said it intercepted some buses bringing in about 100 almajiri children into the state. The Commissioner for Information John Okiyi said the travellers were turned back because a presidential order banning inter-state transport was still in force. He added that the state’s Ministry of Homeland Affairs had been mobilised to beef up security at the boundaries.
President Muhammadu Buhari had recently imposed a restriction on inter-state trips to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The order had also coincided with the relocation of almajiri by several Northern states.
A statement by the Enugu State government yesterday disclosed that similar operations aimed at preventing infiltration and enforcing the ban on inter-state transport were ongoing at the Enugu-Abia boundary and Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
Mr. Philip Nwazi, who is the new Divisional Police Officer in charge of Udenu Local Government Council, explained that some offending vehicles in the area were intercepted and impounded between 11:00 p.m. (Tuesday) and 3:00 a.m. (Wednesday).
Nwazi said some of the intercepted vehicles had emerged from forests as their drivers tried to beat the restriction order. He said they were promptly turned back to serve as a deterrent to would-be violators.
The Chairman of Udenu Council, Solomon Onah said the local administration was fully mobilised and working round the clock to ensure that the restrictions by the state and Federal Government were complied with.
Also, the Cross River State government yesterday reportedly turned back five truckloads of almajirai and other passengers from the North.
State Security Adviser Alfred Mboto was quoted as saying: “We got a report from our security and task force teams at the Garkem border town yesterday night that trucks carrying a large number of children from the north, alleged to be almajirai, were intercepted after a thorough check and have been turned back.”