COVID-19: Ondo govt sends 19 almajiris back to Sokoto, arrests 50 youths inside hotel

No fewer than 19 almajiris from the northern part of the country who arrived Akure, Ondo State capital, on Monday night, were sent back to their base on Tuesday. This is just as about 50 young boys and girls were also arrested in a hotel in Akure.

The youth were arrested for disturbing public peace, not observing the social gathering rules and gathering of more than twenty people.

Tribune Online reports that the youth did not leave when they were dispersed before they were eventually arrested. Some of the youth at the hotel, however, evaded arrest.

It was also gathered that the almajiris who were said to have beaten all security apparatus at the borders arrived in Akure in one of the trailers of a popular cement company in the middle of the night. |They were also said to have passed the night at the depot of the cement company.

The residents of the area who noticed a large number of the visitors raised the alarm and called the attention of the COVID- 19 task force in the state to the development.

The task force swung into action and interrogated the visitors who confessed that they were coming from Sokoto and intended to settle down in Akure.

One other almajiris, who identified himself as Garuba said they were in the state to settle down but denied following the Dangote truck to the town.

Speaking on the development, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor  Rotimi Akeredolu on Security Matters, Alhaji Jimoh Dojumo who led the state’s Task Force Team on COVID-19 to the location, expressed concern over their arrival in the state.

He wondered how they beat the security operatives at the borders, saying the development confirmed that the state borders are still porous.

He, however, said the governor has ordered that all the people should be returned to their state, explaining that: “We received information that some almajiris numbering about 20 were dumped in this particular location by some trailers at night time and they are stranded here without knowing their destination.

“Mr governor directed that they should be returned to the way they were coming from because we believe they came in through borders of states before they got here. We expected the authorities of those states to check the movements before getting to us.

“It is like we have helped Osun State to check it now. They are not moving towards Osun. We don’t even know if this is their final destination anyway but the fact remains that we have been able to check them here and we are returning them back.

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“We agreed that our borders are still porous but what we are doing now is the blocking of the unmanned borders. There is a lot of porosity at some border routes and bush parts that security agencies do not have the strength to block, and those are where the governor is now blocking totally with concretes. That is why we are moving to Akoko/Imeri axis of the state to go and block all those areas now, to block all those feeder roads.

“Most of the people (almajiris) might have come through these bush parts beating the authority at the main road. We cannot rule that one out totally. The issue of compromise cannot be a hundred per cent rule out.

“Yesterday, we were at Ijare and we have blocked a reasonable part of the place and no vehicle can come to Ondo State.”

Dojumo who disclosed that the state government has commenced blockage of some routes which he said some travellers have been using to sneak into the state urged other state governments to be vigilant in their surveillance.

It will be recalled that in a bid to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19 in the state as well as the importation of cases into the state, Governor Akeredolu on April 1, 2020, ordered that borders within the state be closed.

Meanwhile, the Ondo State Police command urged residents of the state to be vigilant and to report to the appropriate authorities anytime they come in contact with strange faces.

According to the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr Tee-Leo Ikoro, who said that the almajiris accompanied trucks from the northern parts of the country under the pretence of transporting foodstuffs.

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