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Coronavirus: Several Nigerians express worry over Buhari’s extension of lockdown

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As President Muhammadu Buhari extends the coronavirus lockdown in high-risk states, Nigerians have expressed concerns on the high cases of robbery looming.

After the expiration of the 14 days lockdown earlier announced, Mr Buhari on Saturday urged Nigerians to continue to comply with the stay-at-home directive.

A presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu, noted that the president has ordered the release of 70,000 tonnes of grain to augment the ongoing palliative being given to vulnerable Nigerians.

Nevertheless, The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against possible intentions by countries to end their restriction of movements ‘too soon’.Like Nigeria, many countries have imposed movement restrictions on citizens to check the spread of the pandemic.

The director-general of WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, at a press conference Friday said lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. He said the coronavirus appears to be slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe like Spain, Italy, Germany and France; however, lifting stay-at-home orders too soon could lead to a “deadly resurgence,” He said.

Nigeria has recorded 318 cases in nineteen states as at the time of filing this report.

Crime rate

There have been reports of unrest and robberies in Ogun and Lagos states. The Lagos State Police Command, through its spokesperson, Bala Elkana, said there were three cases of robberies, one in Ogun community and two in Lagos communities recently.

He said hoodlums and miscreants have devised a new way of robbing people during the lockdown different from the reports being circulated on the social media.

“You know their style? They will step out in the name of supremacy fight, just to create confusion and draw people from their houses and start stealing from them and snatching phones.”

He said there was a cult clash within Ogun communities close to Alakoko area, and the area had been battling this for the past four, five days while the Ogun State police command had been making arrests.

He said during the ‘staged’ supremacy fights, they loot from people, steal phones, especially from those who refuse to sit in their houses.

“Due to the proximity of the community to Lagos State, once the clash starts, the Lagos State Command receives multiple calls from people on robbery and hoodlums disturbing the area and we rush there.”

“Because we are very close to the community, we had to send some of our men to help them, and also because those hoodlums trying to escape the Ogun State police split into Lagos communities. Nine of them were arrested yesterday,” Mr Elkana said.

He said seven hoodlums were also arrested at Apapa area of Lagos after staging a supremacy fight and looting from residents.“Those reports are not real, I’m giving the scenarios of the real cases,” he said, at the mention of Ogba, Abule Egba, Agege and other communities.

“We had another incident at the Ilaje-Ajah community, they had issues two days ago. You know these people have hostility for years because of dredging. Because these guys are on lockdown, they cannot come out to dredge again, so they started fighting themselves just to steal also. We got 20 of them arrested,” he said.

Mr Elkana said whenever the hoodlums start fighting, they cause commotion in the communities to draw people out and because people do not sit in their houses, they steal from them.

“Those are the few attempts we have, all others are false.”

“They keep on stretching our people, we push them and they go, not nothing there. What we did to them now is that we deployed all our tactical units last night permanently to those areas,” he said.

Grouse

Many Nigerians have expressed their grievances on the extension of the lockdown without necessary palliatives. In the last few weeks, state governments have also rolled out stimulus packages which are minute when compared to the population of the country.

A human rights activist and legal expert, Festus Ogun, said the extension is expedient but will fail without adequate support for citizens.

“Beyond the controversial palliatives the Federal Government says it gave poorest of the poor people, the reality is that the hardship and hunger in the land outweigh the unrealistic measures put in place. It is the reason why you see unrest, violence and robbery in the land, even despite the lockdown.”

“FG must brace up and face the reality and stop playing hide and seek. The government owes a duty to provide security and welfare for its people. Failure to abundantly provide for the same during this period would spell nothing other than disaster and untold calamity,” He told POLITICS NIGERIA on Sunday.

Another human rights activist, Olorunfemi Adeyeye, said he has foreseen an increase in crime due to the hunger bedevilling the impoverished.

He explained its sociological consequence as a result of the survival instinct inherent in man.

“I do not see the extension of lock-down without real palliatives for the masses as a solution at all. No curve can be flattened when hunger strikes.”

“Not justifying crime, but there is an upsurge in the rate of armed robbery, even in broad daylight in major cities across the country since the lockdown. It’s been a gory tale,” Mr Adeyeye stated.

Other reactions from twitter

@Lex_teff: “Dear Nigerian youths, this is how d revolution will start, we all came out in our large numbers in unity and one voice to protect out communities and our families last night from armed robbers. Soon we will come out against greedy and corrupt leaders for a better nija #LagosUnrest”

@AyoBankole: “I was driving on Victoria Arobieke yesterday in Lekki Phase 1 & met a road block of fierce men with placards that read “Hunger. No food. No jobs. Lockdown”. Begging for money.”

“When we shout poverty, we aren’t discussing some theoretical nonsense. This #LagosUnrest is the result.”

@skood009: “This is what happens when a few keeps enriching themselves at the expense of many poor. “Olowo kan larin Otoshi mefa” #anarchy coming should @MBuhari extends lockdown.

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