Residents and Traders in Kogi on Saturday, defied the Government’s lockdown order directing closure of all markets and for people to stay at home across the state.
The Kogi government on Friday announced that it would shut down the state as from Saturday, March 28, as a measure to contain the spread of the dreaded novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mr. Edward Onoja, Kogi Deputy Governor, who is chairing the state’s Squadron Committee set up by the governor to enforce compliance, declared this at a press conference on Friday in Lokoja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Kogi government through the Ministry of Environment on Saturday also held a low key monthly sanitation exercise across the state.
However, NAN Correspondent who monitored compliance with the shutdown order, reports that activities in the state remained as usual as shops were opened and traders selling their goods and products in all the markets visited.
At Kpata market and the Lokoja International market, though all the entrance gates were under lock and key, the road to the market was flooded with traders in their great numbers, carrying out their usual transactions.
However, there was some level of compliance at the Old market during the period of the monthly sanitation exercise within the hour of 7 am to 10 am, but traders later opened their shops immediately after the exercise.
NAN also reports that many shop owners in Lokoja metroplis opened for business.
Some of the traders who spoke to NAN said they were not aware of the shutdown directive by the state government, saying they needed to earn their daily living.
Mrs. Hassanat Mohammed, a yam flour seller, told NAN that she was not aware of the shutdown directive, saying: ”I have to sell to feed my children”.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the sanitation exercise, the State Commissioner for Environment, Mr. Victor Omofaiye, stressed the need to brace up on the issue of enforcement, saying, ”what has played out today shows that we are yet to get it right.’
According to him, in as much as we have shut down, the markets and traders have decided to use roads as a market place; as government, we will be focusing on full enforcement.
”We will also improve on public sensitisation for people to strictly adhere to government directive on the shutdown order.
”We thank God that today’s monthly sanitation exercise was a success and we hope that the subsequent ones will be better because we will be building on what we have started.
”By and large, we decided to do it in a low key because we are trying to avoid large gathering of people in order to maintain social distancing due to the current outbreak of COVID-19 in the nation,” he said.
Earlier at the market, the commissioner ordered the immediate evacuation of all goods and products displayed by the road in front of the market.
He warned that the government would not hesitate to sanction anyone found to be violating its directive.