“…you can’t force us indoors without palliatives” – Activist

By our Reporter

The Defense Headquarters, Abuja, is reportedly set to dispatch a unit of 300 soldiers to Akwa Ibom state, South South Nigeria, to ‘force’ indigenes to stay at home. The troops are billed to arrive the state at weekend.

The latest move, according to a reliable military source, is in response to reports that residents of the oil-rich state were ‘stubborn’ towards the federal government’s directive of a total lockdown in the face of the dreaded Coronavirus, which is also known as Covid-19.

It could be recalled that the state government had handed down a fourteen-day total lockdown order penultimate week, which expires tomorrow.

Governor Emmanuel had announced the measure, following disclosure by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, that five positive cases of the virus have been discovered in Akwa Ibom state.

Updates from the State Committee in charge of management of the pandemic, as at press time, have three of the 5 index cases have been discharged, while a new case has been suspected.

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As at the time of this report, it was not clear whether the state government would extend the lockdown directive.

Meanwhile, a Human Right Activist in the state, Barr. Godfred Akpan, has warned that any attempt to force any citizen could result to chaos.

Akpan, who dropped the hint in Uyo, yesterday, noted that in other climes, citizens are paid monetary and other incentives to help ameliorate the harsh effects of the lockdown order due to the pandemic.

He said: “I am not expecting the state government to extend the duration of the sit-at-home order. From all indications, one may say that there is no coronavirus in Akwa Ibom state.

“However, if there is, then both the state and federal governments should make available palliatives for citizens to help ameliorate their sufferings. It could amount to human right violations, which may lead to chaos, to force a hungry population to stay at home. So, governments should be very cautious to forestall creating serious problems out of the pandemic”.

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As at the time of this report, the nation’s military authorities have yet to issue official statement on the dispatch of soldiers to Akwa Ibom state.