Lagos, Abuja, Ogun roads deserted as residents obey stay-at-home order

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Day one of the presidential order restricting movements in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states for two weeks left many major streets/roads in Abuja and Lagos deserted.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday directed that the two states and the FCT be shut down as an additional measure to curtail the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

By early morning Tuesday, some pedestrians and motorists who hit the roads in Lagos were turned back by security men at Ikeja, Maryland, Iyana Ipaja,  Ikorodu, Okota, Amuwo-Odofin, Oshodi,  Ketu, Berger, Badagry  and parts of Iju –Ajuwon,.

About 20 pedestrians were arrested by a team of soldiers near the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) in Ikeja.

It was not clear if the arrested persons who were ordered to sit on bare floor under the flyover near the hospital’s main gate were later released.

Some youths took advantage of the lockdown to engage in football matches on major roads/streets in spite of the running campaigns encouraging social distancing as way of avoiding the contraction of COVID-19.

Even Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes on some parts of Ikorodu Road, around Ketu, were turned to football grounds by youths.

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Commander, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) Olatunji Disu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) who monitored Ikorodu, Magodo, Ikeja and environs, expressed worries over people gathering at some sports in their neighbourhoods.

Disu said he had to take time to admonish some youths, adults on preventive measures against COVID-19.

The ever-busy Ikorodu roads, especially Eyita via Sabo roundabout to Ikorodu garage, General Hospital   and  Ojubode, were free from both  vehicular and human movements.

Only persons on essential duties like officials of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority, were allowed free movement by the security personnel who blocked Ikorodu roads.

Some food vendors were also seen on the roads. A few petrol stations opened but had no motorists patronising them.

In Mowo, Badagry, residents who also complied with the order called on the government to provide palliatives as it would be difficult for them to stay at home without money and food items.

One of the residents said, “Oga (boss), please help us tell the government that they need to help us with food items and cash if we have to stay home. Two weeks is likely eternity.”

Another, who claimed he went to a nearby bus stop to assess the compliance level, said he feared security personnel might sabotage the stay –at-home directive.

He said: “I got out early this (yesterday) morning and what I saw shocked me. I saw police and soldiers in uniform picking passengers for fees.

“I wonder how the stay-at-home order will be effective. How will the government be able to fight this Coronavirus? I hope that as the days go by, the enforcement will be taken more seriously.” .

Siren-blaring convoy of security vehicles made their way through the area with several private cars in tow.

There was substantial compliance with the order in a part of Iju-Ajuwon, a community located along the border between Lagos and Ogun. But in some parts of the community in Ogun State, there was vehicular movement.

Commercial tricycle and okada operators were also sighted on the roads.

Some of the operators claimed they were on the roads/streets because they believed that the lockdown would begin in Ogun State on Friday.

The roads in Lagos were free from the blue-coloured air-conditioned luxury buses operated by the Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL).

LBSL Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Afolabi Olawale, had in a statement, said the buses would be off the roads in compliance with the presidential directive.

He said the position of the company would further enhance the efforts by the federal and state governments’ chances of defeating Coronavirus.

In the FCT, essential workers were stranded at several bus stops at Wuse 2 and other parts of Abuja as security operatives ensured that all vehicles not permitted to ply the roads did not operate.

Read also: 2023: COVID-19 pauses jostling, permutations as battle for survival sets in

“They (government) should have made alternative arrangements for us before giving the order on movements. I have trekked over three kilometres. I am not happy. The worst is that I know that the coming days will be worse,” he lamented.

Other normal pedestrian movements and commercial activities were in the FCT were dry as virtually all shops and business outlets were closed.

Although a few essential commodities and drug retail stores were open for business, only a few persons were seen going in for patronage.

Residents of Gwagwalada, Passo, Paika and Dobi, who complied with the lockdown lamented that erratic power supply by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) had made their stay at home almost unbearable.

Some of them were seen under the shades of trees outside their homes and within their vicinities because of scorching heat.

Their children, who could not cope with the heat took to the deserted streets to play football.

A resident of Passo, Abdulmalik Aliyu, who commended President Buhari for the lockdown, urged Nigerians to endure the inconveniences.

“The lockdown is a welcome development. Going by what we are seeing in Europe, especially Italy and Spain, the President’s action is commendable,” he said.

FCT Minister Mallam Muhammad Bello had after an emergency meeting with the heads of security outfits and senior administrative staff of the FCTA, said that “all organs of the FCT security services and other government agencies have agreed and worked out modalities to ensure that all entry and exit points of the FCT and by extension, other satellite towns, are manned by relevant officials to ensure that everybody stays home.”

The minister added that the FCT already had modalities in place to identify indigent members of society that would require assistance.

He said: “The system of identifying vulnerable people within the FCT community is already in place, using the 60-ward structure of INEC, as well as the traditional and religious authorities.

“Within every community, those that are vulnerable are known and also, under our Social Security Scheme, we already have a database of vulnerable people that have been taken care of under the conditional cash transfer.

Jigawa State Government has expressed dismay over the defiance of its order on boarder closure by motorists.

The Jigawa Commissioner for Health, Dr. Abba Umar , who made this known, called on security agents in the state to enforce the order,

Umar also announced the suspension of weekly market days in the state but explained “that markets are not closed and people within the vicinities of the markets can carry out transactions”.

He said, “The essence of prohibiting market days is to prevent easy spread of COVID-19 across the state since people from all over the state including neighbouring states converge on market days which could be an avenue for easy transmission and spread of COVID-19. This will be lifted once situation improves.”

Read more: 11 million Nigerians to get Fed Govt’s palliatives

The FCT Police on Tuesday denied that a man was maltreated to death by policemen while enforcing the ban on the restriction of movement.

A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer DSP Anjuguri Manzah, said it was it a pathetic case of a man who slumped around Bannex junction and was assisted by some operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

“Contrary to the misleading information in circulation, the incident in question is not in any way linked to the action of police personnel. Rather, it is a pathetic case of a man who slumped around Bannex junction and was assisted by some operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, as it can be clearly seen in the video.

“While reaffirming the Command’s commitment to provide maximum security for FCT residents and ensure strict enforcement of the restriction of movement, to contain the spread of Covid-19, the Command wishes to advice members of the public to disregard the misleading information.”

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