By Daniel Tyokua
The Federal Capital Territory FCT Ministerial Task-team on the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions has arrested 68 persons travelling against the ban of inter-state through the nation’s capital on Wednesday.
They were hidden in two Dangote company trucks and another truck conveying fertilisers from Edo state.
Luck ran out of them around Zuba area of Abuja when the Task-team insisted on seeing the contents of the trucks.
They were however arraigned before Magistrate Ebiwari Damini at the Zuba Mobile Court.
Those convicted were Abdul Sani, a Dangote truck Driver and Mukhtar usman, the fertiliser truck driver.
The Presiding Magistrate ruled that those who were allegedly going back to Zaria having been turned back at the entry of Edo state, be guided out of the FCT and allowed to return to their original place of departure which is Zaria, even as he fined them N5, 000 each.
He also ruled that those from Kano and Zaria be returned to the places of their departure by the FCT Administration.
Attah Ikharo, chairman of the FCT task team decried the increasing rate at which persons violate the ban on interstate travel as announced by the president.
On the suspects arrest, Attah said, “Drivers of the two Dangote trucks who were coming from Kano and Zaria after delivering goods, they now took passengers who were charged N1,500 each.”
He noted that, “owners of trucks must do all to ensure their trucks which are meant for haulage of goods are not converted to be illegally transporting persons from one state to another, thus violating the lockdown directives of the president. What the drivers do is to charge passengers along the road between N1,000 and N1,500 to transport them across states. Most of the drivers often ask the passengers to sit on the floor or hide in between bags so that they cannot be spotted by security personnel, but for us in the FCT, we check every truck before allowing them passage”.
According to Attah, “the breakdown of those arrested are 17 persons travelling from Zaria to Lokoja and Asaba in Delta state, 16 persons travelling from Kano to Lokoja and Obajana in Kogi state and 25 persons travelling from Edo state to Zaria in Kaduna state.”
Speaking while pleading not to be turned backed to Zaria, the driver of the Dangote truck, Abdul Sani disclosed that he was earlier apprehended in Kaduna state and fined N5,000 by the state mobile court after which he was allowed to proceed on the journey to Lokoja with those he was carrying.
However a Mobile Court sitting at Gudu District sentenced one Mr Sunday Okafor to one month imprisonment without an option of fine for slapping a policewoman at the court premises.
Okafor had also assaulted a female personnel of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS whom he pushed to the ground during an argument within the court arena.
The Presiding Magistrate, Abdulrazak Musa Eneye who personally witnessed the assault handed down the sentence.
Chairman of the Ministerial Task-team, Ikharo Attah noted that, “the verdict would go a long way in deterring people from assaulting law enforcement officers who are carrying out their legitimate duties”.
The man who thereafter broke down in tears and pleaded for mercy was immediately moved to the Kuje Custodial Centre by personnel of the Nigerian Correctional Service to serve his jail term.