The Abia State government, Tuesday, turned back some youth who wanted to enter the South East state in violation of a lockdown order in the state.
The youth, traveling from the north, were caught hiding inside a truck loaded with cattle, an official of the Abia state government told PREMIUM TIMES, Tuesday afternoon.
A video of the incident has been posted on Facebook. Officials of the Abia government are seen in the video ordering the youth to assemble by the roadside for a headcount.
Most states in Nigeria have banned people and vehicles from entering their states as a measure to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“My men climbed inside the truck to search it, and then asked all of them to come out,” the head of Homeland Security, Abia state, Dan Okoli, said of the interception of the truck which he said was about driving into Abia from Enugu. “There were about 11 of them (hiding at the back of the truck where the cattle were).”
Mr Okoli said the youth, including the truck driver, could not speak any language other than Hausa, so it was difficult for them to be interrogated.
Mr Okoli and his team allowed the cattle to pass, but turned back the youth. “If we had turned back the cows, a lot of them may die on their way,” he said.
He said he received report from his officials that another of such truck with about 30 youth inside was prevented from entering the state at night.
Abia State is said to have 41 entry points. The homeland security deploys over 300 officials daily to man 16 of the entry points where vehicles could drive through into the state.
“When I discover new tricks they use to come in, I make sure I intimate my people for them to re-strategise,” Mr Okoli said.
“We have to do everything possible to protect our people. The federal government has said that inter-state movement is prohibited, except for essential products or exempted persons – those who do some essential duties.”
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There are 2802 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Nigeria as of May 5, with Lagos having the highest number, 1183, followed by Kano state with 365. Abia State has two confirmed cases.
Zamfara State recently warned the Osun State government against its plan to “deport” northern youth said to have sneaked into the South-West state, according to a report in The Punch newspaper.
“Nigeria and the world at large is facing a serious and challenging pandemic. All civilised societies are joining hands together to fight the spread of this pandemic and even extending helping hands to others. It is, therefore, disheartening that Osun state will take the path of isolating assumed outsiders and segregating what should be a common fight by all Nigerians,” Zailani Bappa, a media aide to the Zamfara State governor was quoted to have said.