It is a sad irony that our security agents mobilised to man our checkpoints and state boundaries have become perhaps the biggest facilitators of community and nationwide spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
In addition to the policy of social distancing between individuals, governments also sought to establish barriers between the states and communities by using security agencies such as the Police, Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence, state task forces, among others.
The social distancing protocol has failed for the most part due to indiscipline and hunger among the populace. More importantly, our security agents are largely unable to control the tide of inter-communal and interstate infiltrations by recalcitrant citizens.
People have continued to travel despite the directive that all Nigerians should stay wherever they are until the pandemic is contained. Some food suppliers hide human cargoes in their trucks to smuggle them through the security barriers. It was also during this period that we saw hundreds of truckloads of mostly young men being shipped to the Southern states from the North.
Our security agents not only allowed them to pass but some highly-connected individuals capitalised on their influence to force these people whose agenda and motives remain unknown through the security checkpoints for dumping in towns and villages throughout the South in clear violation of the directives of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governors.
The inability of our security agents to carry out their duties effectively has manifested in the geometrical spread of the COVID-19 infections. While there were 131 confirmed cases in Nigeria when Buhari made his first national broadcast on the pandemic on March 30, 2020, it more than doubled two weeks later to 323 on April 13, 2020.
As the President made ready to address the nation again on Monday, May 18, 2020, the figure had literally gone through the roof at 5,959. The repatriation of almajirai children in the North and the illegal shipments of people to the South have helped to shoot up the infection rate, especially in the South East which hitherto had consistently recorded low rates.
Corruption and incompetence are not the only factors responsible for the failure of security agencies in stemming the movement of people during the lockdowns. We are yet to know those behind the strange mass movements of people from the North to the South, and what their objectives might be.
We call on the Federal Government to probe these movements, unravel those behind them and their motives and why the security agents ignored government directives and let them through.
Our fear is that beyond helping to “redistribute” the COVID-19 prevalence in Nigeria, these human movements could spell doom for the security of lives and property.