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COVID-19: How security agents allegedly compromised, aided violators in Osun



COVID-19: How security agents allegedly compromised, aided violators in Osun

As governments all over the world battle to flatten the coronavirus curve, through certain precautionary measures, including social distancing directive and stay-at-home order, security agents in Osun State, especially the police, have seriously compromised in the course of enforcing the order, DAILY POST reports.

Recall that the state Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, during a statewide broadcast on Sunday, March 29, announced a total lockdown of the state, starting from Tuesday midnight, and the closure of all the land boundaries effective from midnight of that Sunday, March 29, following the confirmation of the second case of the novel coronavirus.

He asserted that there would be no movement within the state during the shutdown, except those on essential duties, such as health workers, fire service, security personnel, media, among others.

However, DAILY POST, through investigation gathered that many of the commercial drivers had operated freely without hindrance throughout the period of the lockdown, thereby putting the state at serious risk.

Also, the enforcement of restriction of movement within the state was also not effective, as many non-essential workers were seen moving around even as many security checkpoints were sighted around the state.

A social worker, who craved anonymity, said security agents, especially police capitalised on the stay-at-home order to enrich themselves without considering the gravity of what could be the consequences of such an act.

He added that the security agents did not strictly carry out the order of the state government on restriction of moment and closure of boundaries because of pecuniary considerations .

He said :” We are all aware of how commercial vehicles were allowed to bring passengers into the state when the first phase of the lockdown lasted, the police and other security agents greatly compromised.

“Instead of enforcing the stay-at-home directive within the state, they were busy asking motorists for money, as if they were not literate enough to understand the notion behind the order and what it was meant to achieve .

” Government must caution heads of security agencies in the state for this purpose, without forcing security agents to key into the ongoing fight against the dreaded virus, every effort of the government will be counterproductive”.

It was further confirmed that at a place known as Ila-Odo, a boundary between Osun and Kwara, every commercial bus or car pays a minimum of five thousand naira before being allowed to pass despite the closure of boundaries order.

A source, who returned to Osogbo from Ilorin on Saturday, April 4, told DAILY POST that the driver of the bus he was traveling with had informed all the passengers before leaving the park to contribute five hundred naira each to ‘settle’ police before they could be allowed to pass through the route .

He explained that the policemen from a station within the axis, which was located in the hometown of a former governor in the state were seen collecting money ranging from five thousand naira to ten thousand naira from commercial drivers , before allowing them into Osun.

It was the same trend of deviant attitudes on the part of security agents in the state, against the government’s directives for closure of boundaries in other axis around the state.

For example, commercial drivers at the Osogbo-Akure axis were still plying the route despite the closure, while security agents along the highway looked the other way after being ‘settled ‘.

Surprisingly, at the popular Ibadan park located around First Bank along Gbongan-Osogbo road in the metropolis, commercial buses were still sighted carrying passengers to Ibadan, after almost a week that the government had announced closure of boundary between the state and Oyo.

A political analyst, Mr Tade Ayedogbon said : “The checkpoint in Asejire, at the Osun-Oyo boundary is an eyesore, the security agents at that place were not doing what they were asked to do in order to prevent imported cases of coronavirus into the state.

“Exposing the larger populace to the great danger of pandemic because of selfish interest is callous and unpatriotic, the government must act fast to stop this without delay.”

However, the level of enforcement of restriction of movement took another dimension on Saturday, after the governor reportedly expressed displeasure over the development.

A Correspondent of one of the leading television stations in Nigeria had during a press conference called the attention of the governor to how some residents were flouting the stay-at-home order, and failed to comply with the social distancing directive.

This, according to a source, made the governor to express his disappointment to heads of security agencies in the state, which instantly changed the trend of enforcement, although, the situation later changed to the former after some days .

Speaking with a medical expert in Ile-ife, Dr Oso Taiwo, who commended the government in the state for what he termed committed approach towards the fight against the killer disease, he, however, advised the enforcement team to be more assertive .

Oso maintained that while the state is gradually getting it right in it’s efforts to curb the ravaging novel coronavirus, it must see to the need for total compliance amongst residents, to avert community transmission.

“In as much as the news of more patients testing negatives is cheering, the tempo must be strictly sustained through effective monitoring and enforcement.

“Government must put every political apparatus in place to ensure that people comply with necessary precautionary measures and stay safe”, Oso said.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) could not be reached for reaction as at the press time, however, the Police spokesperson, Mrs Yemisi Opalola, when contacted, said the command was not aware of such infraction by its men.

She, however, promised to investigate to ascertain the veracity of the allegation.

“We have not received any complaint to that effect, I even passed through that Osogbo-Ibadan axis recently, and they did not allow me to pass until I introduced myself,” she explained .

Asked if the Command will investigate and punish would-be culprits, she said,” yes , we are going to investigate and get back to you.”

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