By Dayo Johnson, Jimitota Onoyume, Festus Ahon, Dirisu Yakubu & Omeiza Ajayi
LEADERS of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum, SMBF, have urged Nigerians of Southern and Middle Belt extraction to be vigilant, and avert what it called possible spread of Coronavirus in the areas by Northern elements.
The leaders also expressed dismay at what they described as the complacency of the security forces over the invasion of their areas by teenagers “from far Northern Nigeria hidden in containers and trailers, in spite of the ban on interstate movements by the President, the Northern Governors Forum and all the governors in the South and Middle Belt.”
In a statement jointly signed by Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Olu Adebanjo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, and Dr. Bitrus Porgu, on behalf of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Congress, MBC, respectively, the forum chided Nigeria’s security forces for alleged complicity in the act and called on people of the South to resist the temptation to accom-modate “the visitors,” in light of the dangers posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
The joint statement
The statement read: “This ominous develop-ment is coming after Boko Haram threatened openly three weeks ago that they were going to take their battle against Nigeria to the South-East and South-South.
“Very worrisome in this development is the quietness of the National Security organizations, the National COVID-19 Committee and the Presidency since this story broke out.
“This development has brought about very strong suspicions among our people regarding the aim of the deployment of these young men. Their capacity to escape all border security checks until they reach many states in the South and Middle Belt points to a strong collaboration.
“God forbid that the Boko Haram threat is being surreptitiously executed. We will certainly not fold our arms and allow massive influx of youths who have no reason to flout extant laws on interstate movements, no pressing national engagement in our areas, no verifiable occupation, no tests for COVID-19 and no prearranged accommodation, to come and forcibly occupy our forests and perhaps prosecute the threat of Boko Haram.
“The silence of the Federal Government in this situation is ominous. The maneuvers appear deliberately planned and provocative. We will resist any threats to the security of our lives and property with every amount of self help available to us.
“To avoid further descent into an uncontrollable situation, we call on the Federal Government to publicly declare this invasion illegal, direct our national security organizations to flush them out now and ensure that they do not return.
“Not too long ago, General T.Y. Danjuma warned us to be ready for self-help. We hope that his predictions have not become inevitable and that our nation can be saved a slide into lawlessness and its disastrous consequences.”
Ondo sends 13 Almajiri boys back North
The leaders’ warning came as another 13 Almajiri boys, who sneaked into Ondo State in a truck, were sent back to the northern part of the country.
Vanguard gathered that the truck was intercepted, weekend, by officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, at the junction of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA.
They were packed with goods and heading for Akure, the state capital, when they were stopped.
Recall that 20 Almajirai from Sokoto and Kano states were last week arrested and sent packing after they sneaked into the state in a truck belonging to Dangote cement.
The FRSC state Sector Commander, Mr Rotimi Adeleye, confirmed the interception of the Almajiri boys, saying the patrol team of the command, acting on a tip off, intercepted the vehicle at FUTA South gate junction Akure on Saturday morning.
“Our patrol team intercepted a truck conveying about 13 male youth from outside the state into Akure the capital of Ondo state,” he disclosed, adding that the driver of the vehicle claimed to have picked the boys suspected to be of Northern extraction on his way from lbadan, Oyo State.
The sector commander said that the Nigeria Police and Ondo State COVID-19 monitoring team were invited and the boys were handed over to them.
Adeleye added that the Nigeria Police and state COVID-19 team promised to lead them out of the state accordingly.
Patients go wild at FCT isolation centre, want quick discharge
Meanwhile, some patients at the Asokoro treatment facility, Abuja,went on rampage yesterday, protesting against their being kept at the centre.
A source within the facility told Vanguard that the protesting patients usually became carefree after the results of their first round of tests read negative, only for their confirmatory tests to turn positive again.
The source said: “There is tension in our facility here this (Sunday) morning. Some boys from (a section of the country) are protesting that they want to leave. Some of them said they have stayed too long here, that is over two weeks, and that they are now well.
“Their anger was triggered because some other persons tested negative twice and have been discharged. The problem is that some of them live recklessly here and they get reinfected and test positive again after testing negative in their first confirmation test, while some of them have never tested negative even after more than two tests.
“Now, doctors cannot come and attend to us because of what these guys are putting up here. Even food, we have not gotten so we can’t take our drugs.
“The health workers and staff here are really trying but some of the boys here are unruly and throw caution to the winds. The guys need to be taken out of this facility because they are unreasonable. Even if they have a valid point they are going about it the wrong way because these health workers are taking good care of them and working hard to decongest this place.
“The only fault I see here is, when they conduct tests, they don’t communicate the results to us. The only thing you would see is that they just come and add to your medicines.
“The officials also need to change tactics and strategy here like revealing the results to us promptly and communicating to us very well because of the illiterate guys among us,” he advised.
As of 8:58am, Vanguard gathered that the doctors had gained entrance into the ward to attend to all the patients.
Naval Rating escapes from treatment centre in Delta to smoke hemp
In a related development, a Naval rating, who tested positive for coronavirus in Delta State, on Saturday, escaped from the state treatment centre at the Delta State University Teaching Hospital Oghara, Ethiope West Local Government Area of the state after threatening those working at the centre with a knife.
The rating, it was gathered had pleaded with those in charge of the centre to allow him go out to smoke Indian hemp (marijuana) since Wednesday last week but the officials declined.
A source at the hospital told Vanguard that he became violent on Saturday afternoon after he was denied again. He pulled a knife with a threat to stab anyone who stands on his way.
The source who pleaded anonymity, said they have not seen him since he left.
Confirming the incident, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said the state government had alerted the naval authorities over the development and hoped that the authority would bring him back to the centre to enable him complete his treatment. He added that the state government was concerned about the health of all residents and indigenes of the state.