The Christian Graduate fellowship (NCGF), has called on Southern Governors and security operatives to beef up surveillance at boundaries, due to dangers posed by indiscriminate inter-state travels by unauthorised persons.
NCGF, in an open letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and Governors of the South titled: Re-movement of human cargo from the North to South, signed by the group’s National President, Prof. Charles Adisa and General Secretary, Mr Philip Nwaegeruo, accused security operatives of complicity and violation of inter-state restrictions.
The group expressed worry about reported incidences of lorry-loads of beggars, known as Fulani and Almajiris, were intercepted at various parts of the zone by vigilante groups and task force personnel.
NCGF noted that Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), recently banned the Almajiri system and began the relocation of street kids to their various states and communities, as part of efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The letter reads: “some individuals are disguising as goods in trucks and trooping from the North to the South, despite the lock-down by the Federal and State governments.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the suspects hiding as cargoes were able-bodied persons categorised as Almajiris and Fulani are being off-loaded surreptitiously, in South East, South-South and South-West geopolitical zones.
“We have also reported similar sinister migrations in the Middle-Belt, including Nasarawa State. The actual mission behind this illegality, in the wake of the increasing spread of the deadly disease in many states, and the North, raises serious concerns,” the group noted.
NCGF stated that some so-called Almajiris, are positive or asymptomatic to coronavirus, and if allowed to sneak into the Southern States, may escalate community transmissions, where spread has been at a minimal.
The letter further revealed that the inflow of the Fulani and Amajiris at odd hours, and when the states are in total lockdown also pose security threats to the region.
“Whatever be the intention, and the timing of this strange action is suspicious. It is wrong and highly dangerous for people to disguise themselves as livestock, older and goods, just to migrate to other areas of the nation clandestinely, against laid down regulations,” the group said.
“One cannot hide under the right to freedom of movement and settlement in any part of the country to endanger the lives of other people.”
The group, however, regrets that “these illegal operations are taking place in the presence of security agencies, who have been deployed to ensure strict compliance with the social and economic laws.”
NCGF wondered why there are several military and police checkpoints between Oturkpa Junction in Benue State and Iriebe in Rivers State, yet these infractions are manoeuvring their way into the Southern states, particularly at night.
The letter reads: “The same can be said of the western flank of the national highways, yet these illegal movements have continued unabated.
“In the last week, three interceptions took place along the eastern axis. A team of locals intercepted an Eastern bound luxurious bus with 60 travellers from the north at Obollo Afor axis. At the Lokpanta axis in Abia State, a trailer load of close to 200 persons lodged between animals and foodstuffs was intercepted. Less than 24 hours at the Abia state boundary with Akwa Ibom at Ariam, another human cargo in a Dangote truck was also intercepted. In each of these places, there is a military roadblock.
“That the driver of the truck was said to have confessed that the police collected N4,000 from each of the passengers before allowing them to pass. This is proof that the security agencies are colluding in the illegal movements. Similar incursions have also been spotted around Lagos and Western axis.”
The group in clarifying how police reports exposed that those arrested confessed to having bribed security agencies, said, “They may not be Almajiris of beggars looking for greener pastures as believed hence the need to probe and unmask the real motives and characters behind this sudden migration from the North.”
NCGF called on the Inspector-General of Police and the General Officers Commanding (GOC) 6 and 82 Division, Port Harcourt and Enugu respectively, of the Nigerian Army and their counter-parts to carry out proper investigations into these breaches and prosecute erring officials, to serve as a deterrent while urging the Southern Governors to improve surveillance in the region, by establishing an independent ad hoc security arrangement to forestall this illegal movement.
The Christian group, while noting that the safety of the region was being compromised and reminded the governors of their constitutional responsibility to ensure security of lives and properties under their jurisdictions, urged all residents to be vigilant and alert the authorities, if they observe suspicious activities in their communities.
“We also urge community leaders and Christian organisations to be alert over the recent development, considering widespread apprehensions over alleged plots by terrorists and Islamic extremists to invade the region,” the group said.