Nigeria Police Embark On Strict Enforcement Of Curfew, Interstate Travel Ban
Saying it was tired of taking the blame for the flagrant violation of COVID-19 restriction guidelines, the police yesterday began strict enforcement of the nationwide curfew and interstate travel ban imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago.
The police commands, particularly in Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), acting on the directive of the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Adamu, locked down their areas of operation from 8 pm, insisting that there was no exemption for anybody including essential workers.
The virus’ infection tally increased by 226 to 6,401 yesterday sparing 1,734 that had been discharged while 192 had died.
The new cases were reported from 16 states, including Lagos 131, Ogun 25, Plateau 15, Edo 11, Kaduna seven, Oyo six, FCT five, Adamawa five, Jigawa four, Ebonyi four, Borno four, Nasarawa three, Bauchi two, Gombe two, Enugu one, and Bayelsa, one.
The president had with effect from May 4 relaxed the lockdown of FCT, Lagos and Ogun States he had imposed on March 30, emplacing a nationwide curfew from 8 pm to 6 am and a ban on interstate travel. He, however, maintained the exemption of essential workers, including health workers, and journalists as well as movement of food, medicines, and other essentials.
However, state governors and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 complained loudly that security agencies were not enforcing the guidelines effectively, leading to rampant disobedience by citizens.
Yesterday, the task force ordered strict enforcement of the curfew and the travel ban.
Complying, police boss Adamu had a teleconference with the top brass of the force and directed strict enforcement of the restrictions, rescinding the pass given to journalists and health workers to operate beyond 8 pm and warning that anyone, including ministers found on the road during the curfew would be arrested and prosecuted.
But following outcry and pressure, Adamu last night rescinded his non-exemption directive and restored the privilege of essential workers to move during the curfew.
In a terse statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Frank Mba said: “All essential workers including medical personnel, firefighters, ambulance services, journalists, etc are exempted from the restriction of movement associated with both the partial lockdown and the national curfew across the federation.
“The IG, Mohammed Adamu has therefore directed all Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commands Commissioners of Police to give effect to these exemptions whilst enforcing the restriction orders.”
The Lagos State Command Commissioner, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, had earlier yesterday confirmed that there would be no movement of essential workers by 8 pm, stressing that “once it is 8 pm, there will be no more human or vehicular movement.”
When contacted, the Force spokesperson, DCP Frank Mba stressed that the curfew had now been extended to everyone, including policemen and government officials.
Mba made this disclosure after THISDAY sought clarifications on the strict enforcement directive reeled out by the IG.
He said: “Nobody is exempted from the curfew – absolutely nobody. Even policemen who are not on duty have been warned to stay back in the office once it’s 8 pm.”
When asked about journalists, he reiterated that nobody was exempted, including government officials, adding that the policemen will enforce the IG’s directive to the letter.
In a press statement issued by Mba, the IG ordered strict enforcement of the national curfew and interstate movement restriction orders emplaced by the federal government.
The IG gave this directive to the zonal assistant inspectors general of police and state commissioners of police during a virtual conference.
According to the statement issued by Mba, the police hierarchy reviewed operational strategies and took decisive measures aimed at evolving customised security solutions to cope with crime trends and other security challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The IG, while evaluating security reports from various states commands, charged the Commissioners of Police particularly in states with recent incidents of attacks on communities, to rejig their security architecture to forestall further attacks and keep the communities safe and secure for the citizenry. The IG also expressed concerns over reports bordering on human rights infractions between the public and personnel of the force. He, therefore, called for mutual respect between the public and members of the force and charged the strategic managers to place more premiums on the supervision of police personnel under their watch,” the statement explained.
The two states are yet to record any positive COVID-19 case.
While Kogi has only tested one sample, Cross River has tested seven samples, all of which returned negative for COVID-19.
According to the data, Lagos has tested the highest number of persons with 14,886 samples, followed by the FCT and Kano with 4,688 and 2,653 samples tested, respectively.
“As we all know, the level of compliance with some of those guidelines we have provided has been limited at best in some areas and we have to make sure that whatever we do in terms of taking actions or decisions we do not drag ourselves back to the beginning of the pandemic again. We do appreciate this. It is one of the things, we will continue to consider as we monitor the next two weeks.”
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