- Anxiety Over Sudden Influx of Northerners In Osun
- Our Borders ‘ll Be Fortified With Involvement Of Amotekun Corps – Govt
- Police Boss Issues Stern Warning To Officers
By Ismaeel Uthman
The porous condition of borders between the State of Osun and adjoining states; resultant from compromise by security agents is beginning to take a threatening toll on the well-being of the people of the state, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and its debilitating effects.
OSUN DEFENDER noted that there has been unchecked inflow of people from states infected with the novel virus into the State of Osun, in spite of the lockdown declared by Governor Adegboyega Oyetola to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
There are serious concerns that the huge influx of people from Northern part of Nigeria and neighbouring Ondo, Oyo, and Kwara into Osun might result to grave implications for the health of residents, as the purpose of the lockdown which is to stop community transmission of the novel virus has been defeated.
The development is causing panic among the residents of the state who have been expressing fears that their health may be in jeopardy with the unrestricted entry of people into the state.
It was learnt that the consequence of the porous borders was the discovery of 12 new COVID-19 cases, among which were two people brought from Lagos to Osun during the lockdown period.
OSUN DEFENDER authoritatively gathered that the people, particularly the northerners, have been having their way into the state by compromising the security agents manning the numerous barricades mounted on roads across the state during the lockdown.
It would be recalled that the medium had in its April 11, 2020 edition reported that all the borders adjoining Osun were porous, as there were vehicular and human movements, against the principle of the sit-at-home order.
Findings revealed that the northerners had been coming into the state with trucks conveying foodstuffs to various parts of the state.
It was gathered that the northerners are settling in Osogbo, Ile-Ife, Ifewara, Ifon-Osun and Ilesa.
The situation has been generating tension; as residents of the communities are living in palpable fear of insecurity and susceptibility to contraction of the Coronavirus pandemic, as the health status of the invading northerners was not known.
The northerners have been coming into Osogbo, the state capital with trucks loaded with pepper, tomatoes, yam, onion, fruits and vegetables.
It was noted that some of the northerners have their bases at Sasa market in Oke-Bale and Sabo areas of the state capital, where buying and selling have been going on at evening period between the northerners and Yorubas as well as with other residents.
The government on Wednesday confirmed the development when it raised an alarm that there had been massive entry of northern youths into the state.
The Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, Prince Abdullahi Binuyo disclosed that the northern youths were discovered to have hidden themselves in the trucks and being offloaded at designated points to meet up with their families already living in the state.
Binuyo, in an interview with newsmen stated that the government has taken steps to fish out the illegal migrants and return them to their families.
He said: “Government is aware of a huge influx of non- Osun residents into the state, especially from Zamfara. They were coming majorly through the Ondo axis, accompanying trucks that are carrying food materials purportedly to be sold around the South-West generally.
“The government has been receiving a lot of such reports most especially now that Amotekun has been properly set up. This portends a grave danger; especially at a time like this when Osun is doing everything to avoid community transmission of COVID-19.
“This is not the time to be reckless and allow safety or security breaches at our borders. As for the officers who compromise the borders, the government and the Commissioner of Police have agreed that any officer found wanting in this regard will be punished and used as a scapegoat.”
Beyond government’s reassurance of their safety, some residents who spoke with OSUN DEFENDER showed concerns that the compromise of the security agents who failed to protect the boundaries into the state might have dovetailed in the entry of those who have the COVID-19 virus and transmitted it to those who received them at the point of entry.
They held that while Governor Oyetola had at a media briefing on Sunday urged residents not to receive visitors to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, the government with its admittance of entry of non-indigenes into the state has lost their trust and has put the lives of residents in terrible danger.
Also, residents of Bolorunduro area of Ilesa have been expressing fear over the continuous unchecked influx of northerners into the area since two weeks ago.
Some of the northerners, who had earlier been tenants in the area, have been returning to their rented apartments in the ancient town in spite of the lockdown.
The residents queried how the northerners got into the state without being stopped by the security agents at the borders and on major roads in the state.
One of the residents of the area, who craved anonymity, confided in the medium that the northerner-returnees are of Kebi State origin.
He said the community had made efforts to invite the police and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to take appropriate actions, lamenting that nothing had been done since another batch of the invaders arrived last Sunday night.
A landlord to some of the northerner-tenants, Mr. Olalekan Olorunisomo said he called the NCDC’s designated line for necessary actions to be taken as announced in the media immediately the people arrived, but there had been no response as at the time of filing this report.
When contacted, a prominent indigene of Ilesa and former Director-General of the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) Mr. Wale Idowu confirmed the influx of the northerners, just as he said efforts to get the state government to act on the matter have been proving abortive.
He lamented what he described as cold attitude and response of top government officials he called on over the matter, saying that the development might jeopardize the assiduous efforts made at stopping community spread of the dreaded Coronavirus in the state.
One of the returnees, who gave his name as Mohammed, said that there was no case of COVID-19 in Kebbi State, saying that they were ready to be tested for the disease in the state.
According to him, about 21 remaining tenants were still in their various states.
OSUN DEFENDER gathered that some northerners stormed Ifon-Orolu, Orolu Local Government of the state in a white Toyota bus on Saturday, April 25 at noon.
The Hausas were said to have been dropped at Saago area of the community, where they were reportedly haboured by their kinsmen living there.
When contacted, Prince Jide Akinyooye, the National Publicity Secretary of Ifon-Orolu Progressive Union (IPU) confirmed the incident, saying that the community was worried on the development.
Akinyooye said: “There was a confirmed entry of some Hausa people from Kano State on Saturday at a time that vehicular movement was illegal. Some persons, numbering about 30, entered Ifon from Kano and considering the latest happenings in Kano, we can’t afford to stand akimbo.
“This made the leadership of Ifon-Orolu Progressive Union to contact the Osun State Government Task Force through our local government; but nothing is done up till now on contact tracing and other necessary procedures.
“It is obvious that the local government is not capable of handling the issue of implementing the lockdown. It is also obvious that the Orolu Police Division has no strength to carry out its duties.
“We want to mention that Orolu Local Government deserves a better attention because it is located at a sensitive border point of Osun State and has about ten (10) different entry points.”
He disclosed further that “The Chiefs at the Olufon of Ifon palace, led by the Babakekere called the Head (Sarki) of Hausa community in the town, Alhaji Sulaimon to come and explain what happened. But he (Sarki) denied arrival of people into the community. He, however, said those that came had left shortly after they arrived.
Akinyooye said the explanations tendered by Sarki Hausa are not acceptable to the citizens of the community and called on the government to investigate the matter thoroughly to avoid sleeping on a keg of gunpowder.
When contacted, Sulaimon, admitted that some people, mostly northerners but driven by a Yoruba driver entered their Saago (Hausa community) on Saturday, but he sent them back.
He said, “it is true that some people came in an 18-seater bus on Saturday. But immediately they came, I approached them to ask who they were looking for. They told me that they wanted to relax and go away but we insisted that they should leave and they left.”
When asked where they headed to, Sulaimon said “they headed towards Osogbo.”
Some residents of Ifewara, a community in Atakunmosa West Local Government of the state were said have chased away some Hausas who came into the town last Sunday.
According to some residents of the community, the Hausas, numbering about 30, came to engage in the illegal mining activities that have been ongoing in the area for a long time.
They stated that they could not accommodate the northerners because they did not know if they had been infected with COVID-19.
When contacted, the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr Rafiu Isamotu stated that Osun COVID-19 Task Force was handling the matter at the various areas, saying that it is untrue that the state government is not acting on the matter.
Isamotu said: “Our Task Force is very active and handling the issues you raised. Just some days ago, we sent back some of the northerners who wanted to come into the state.
“All this is happening because our borders are still porous and we are not happy about it. But with the involvement of Amotekun Corps, our borders will be fortified, hopefully.”
When contacted yesterday, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Osun Command, Mrs Yemisi Opatola said: “The Commissioner of Police, Mr Johnson Kokumo has heard about the matter and he has taken action. He has called the Area Commanders and Divisional Police Officers at the borders areas and warned to call their men to desist from that, if truly is happening. He said he would not want such thing to happen again and that they should intensify their efforts on the closure of the borders.