Against interstate lockdown order nationwide, Akwa Ibom people are apprehensive over the mission of 32 youths from the northern part of the country in the state.
Vanguard gathered that the COVID-19 taskforce set up in Obot Akara local government area on Wednesday intercepted another trailer conveying the people along the boundary between Obot Akara of Akwa Ibom and Ikwuano in Abia state.
Though the state governor Udom Emmanuel said during the lockdown order, he ordered repatriation of the 13 Northern youths after they had offloaded cows in Eket, but the 32 persons are yet to be deported.
Akwa Ibom people are, however, afraid of the possible spread of coronavirus following an alleged transportation of Almajiris suspected to have tested COVID-19 positive from some states in the north to the southern states.
The people are equally concerned about the invasion of some states in the region by suspected terrorist groups from the North as well as unhappy at what is seen as a tacit ploy by the Northerners to infiltrate the South in order to establish the planned Ruga settlement opposed by many.
A resident who simply identified himself as Mr. Umoh said, “Government must not treat this transportation of young persons from the north to this part of the country with kidsglove. If you know what is happening today in Delta state, Enugu, Benue.
“Sometimes they don’t even use the roads, they may decide to use the bush tracks. I think the best thing government can do is to beef up security in the communities. And the communities must be involved in this, or else it will not work.”
Reacting to the interception of the 32 Northerners, Mr. Fredrick Nnudam, the state Police Public Relations Officer, said, “They are not Almajiris but Hausa/Fulani men who live at Itam Nassarawa cattle market, Uyo. They were intercepted in a truck on Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at about 11: 45 a.m. at Obot Akara and Abia state boundary.
“On further interrogation, they noted that they were leaving the state since livestock trading was temporarily suspended in the state and cost of living difficult for them.
“Consequently, Mr. Imohimi Edgal, the Commissioner of Police Akwa Ibom State, has ordered that they will only be allowed to leave the state after the ban on inter-state travels is lifted.”
The state government had on Monday, May 11, 2020, banned the transportation of new consignment of livestock into the state until the lifting of interstate lockdown order.
During an interaction with the residents on state-owned Akwa Ibom Broadcasting Corporation (Radio and Television Services) where he responded to questions on what his government was doing to check the influx of northern youths, Emmanuel allayed the people’s fears and reassured them of their safety, stating that the government has mounted 3 Gs cameras at the borders for surveillance.