•Ebonyi flags off fumigation of markets, public places, others
•Ikpeazu orders distribution of palliatives to Abia people
•Provide for the hungry now, Bishop Ezeokafor tells Christians
By Vincent Ujumadu, Eric Ugbor, Dennis Agbo & Ugochukwu Alaribe
ABIA Police command has arrested two policemen in Ikwuano and Isiala Ngwa North LGAs for contravening the Inspector General of Police, IGP’s guidelines on lockdown enforcement in some states due to coronavirus outbreak.
The Abia Police Commis-sioner, Ene Okon who disclosed this during an interview in Aba said the policemen were arrested on Friday for disregarding the IGP’s directives.
The Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed had on April 3, directed policemen across the country to strictly observe human rights in the discharge of their duties during this period.
Okon therefore warned other policemen working during this period to know that they were being watched and would be brought to book if they erred from the directives.
He said: “As I am talking to you, I have two policemen in the cell who deviated from the guidelines of the Inspector-General of Police. I got the report and sent my monitoring team quickly and they were arrested. They are being detained now and by Monday their trial will start.
“These ones we have arrested should send signals to others to let them know that they are being monitored and that everything will be done to bring any erring police officer to book”, he said.
Okon who outlined steps he had taken to enforce Abia government’s directives aimed at keeping Coronavirus away from the state urged citizens to endure the sacrifice for the good of all. The CP reacting to reports that policemen at boundary posts in Abia were using the lockdown to extort money and allow persons to cross the state’s boundaries, said he was attending to complaints on such issues promptly.
It was gathered that some policemen at Abia boundaries with neighbouring states have thrown caution to the wind, extorting and allowing people to pass and thereby breaching lockdown restrictions in the affected states.
Abia had on March 29, closed its boundaries with other states while announcing a total lockdown on Wednesday, April 1, as a measure to stop Coronavirus from spilling over to the state.
However, the policemen at the boundaries according to sources, have converted the opportunity to create brisk business for themselves by extorting people entering the state and allowing them in.
Joseph Alota, a bricklayer working in Akwa-Ibom who spoke to Vanguard, said he was stranded after their manager called off work following five Covid-19 cases recorded in that state. He alleged that he managed to return to Umuahia having paid policemen N3,500 at the boundary checkpoint along Ikot-Ekpene-Umuahia road between Ini LGA in Akwa-Ibom and Ikwuano LGA in Abia.
He said: “Personally I decided I would rather go home than waste the money I have with me in Akwa- Ibom because nobody knows what will happen next. But when we reached the boundary, policemenchased us back saying we’ll not enter Abia for any reason but people were many because the Akwa Ibom infections came as a shock.
“If I’m not mistaken, there were over 500 people because the bike men were having a field day collecting N1,000 per person, per drop. Few hours after standing there begging, one of their bosses addressed us and said we must all pay N5,000 each to cross over to Ikwuano. People started begging, but at a point they ended the bargain with an agreement that each person should pay N3,500. And I gave them N3,500, that was how I managed to get home”
Provide for the hungry now, Bishop Ezeokafor tells Christians
Also yesterday, the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor directed the various parishes in the diocese to provide for their members to mitigate the adverse effects of the current sit-at-home order by the Anambra State government aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. In his homily to mark this year’s Palm Sunday at the Holy Family Spiritual Year Centre Awka, Ezeokafor said there is need for the church to initiate measures to ameliorate the plights of struggling parishioners at a time like this.
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According to him, church leaders must be in the front in taking such measures so as not to allow people’s faith in God to wane because of coronavirus.
He announced that Awka Diocese would soon unveil stimulus packages for the poor in the society and urged all charity organizations of the Church to be handy for the implementation through the Awka Diocesan Justice Development and Peace Caritas (JDPC).
He added: “COVID-19 has humbled everyone and also shown that God remains the beginning and the end and we enjoin all to pray ceaselessly at this trying time, believing that we will triumph at the end. “The virus has proved that we are mere mortals and there is nothing extraordinary about humans.
“COVID-19 has humbled everyone, including those who hitherto saw no need to beckon on God for solution and help. What I take away from what is happening now is that God is still God and He is up there on His throne.
“I therefore implore all to give to those in need and learn to give at all times. A lot of people are living from hand to mouth.
“Many cannot feed very well, especially now that they are asked to sit at home. I feel for those people and we must find a way to assist them,.”
Bishop Ezeokafor commended Governor Willie Obiano for being proactive by taking measures that had helped to keep the virus away from Anambra State so far and urged the people to help in sustaining the measures.
Ikpeazu orders distribution of palliatives
Meantime, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has directed the state’s inter-ministerial committee on COVID-19 pandemic to commence distribution of palliative materials to the 17 council areas of the state from Tuesday 7th April, 2020.
Commissioner for Information and member, state management committee on COVID- 19, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, who disclosed this in a statement, said such palliative materials include food, sanitizers and protective face masks, among others.
He explained that the materials are to be dispatched to vulnerable persons using previously identified channels such as churches, state geriatric care agency, town unions and traditional rulers as well as existing school feeding programme structure in the state.
In his words:”The governor identified the categories of people who will benefit from the palliatives.
“These include the vulnerable groups, people above 70 years, children and women who work for their daily living. We are going to make use of previously identified channels such as churches, state geriatric care agency, town unions and traditional rulers as well as existing school feeding programme structure in the state to reach the beneficiaries.
“Civil servants and government appointees are excluded from the palliatives. Those who are working at the federal ministries, departments and agencies and those who own businesses are also excluded.”
He urged residents of the state to obey government regulations on the COVID -19 pandemic and observe hygienic practices such as social distancing, use of sanitizers, masks and other personal protection equipment.
Connak Foundation leading fight against Covid-19 in Abia
In a similar vein, Connak Foundation, a Non-profit organization with its headquarters in Abia State has contributed immensely to the fight against the deadly COVID-19 scourge in the state. They started off the campaign in Umuahia, the state capital and some villages within and around the capital, with the distribution of 2,000 hand sanitizers in Umuahia and Aba.
The major focus for these donations were the indigent and low income people in the state who might not afford the cost of sanitizers especially this period.
In addition, the Foundation is also carrying out major advocacy and enlightenment campaign through the distribution of 5000 handbills on the prevention of COVID 19 in Umuahia and Aba respectively and radio jingles geared towards enlightening the people on safety measures to prevent being infected. Speaking to journalists during the campaign, the foundation’s medical adviser in the South East, Dr. Orji Nnorom pointed out that the chairman of the foundation, Mr. Ken Ukeagu, (as a citizen of the state) was compelled by the strong passion he has always exhibited towards the wellbeing of the people in the State to help protect them as much as possible.
Dr. Nnorom also recalled how the foundation is involved in conducting medical outreaches yearly, besides other humanitarian ventures, which also includes the massive medical outreach in Abia State in August 2019 (this outreach was in collaboration with FaithCare U.S.A).
He stressed that the foundation will always support any venture geared towards the health, safety and wellbeing of Abians.