South East, South South clamp down on almajirai relocating from North
• Police deny complicity, blame recalcitrant drivers
• Presidential task force knocks security agencies on travel restriction
The Enugu State government yesterday intercepted and turned back nine busloads of almajirai 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 of the 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 almajirai 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.
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.”
In a scenario underscoring the desperation to relocate the almajirai from the North, the Benue State’s COVID-19 Action Committee Wednesday night intercepted 14 almajirai who were allegedly being smuggled into the state.
Reacting to the movement of almajirai to the South, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, urged governors of the region to boost security at their boundaries to prevent entry by unauthorised persons.
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