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Ortom orders closure of entry points to Benue State

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COVID-19 committee bust camp of trafficked persons

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has directed that all entry points into the state must remain closed till further notice, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Ortom, who gave the order yesterday while briefing newsmen at Government House, Makurdi, also said that the partial lockdown of the state should continue.

He did not lift ban on any public gathering in the state, including marriage ceremonies, community festivals, funerals and religious meetings. Said he, “There should be no church service or mosque prayers. Let me remind traditional, religious, youth and political leaders to ensure strict compliance.

“The COVID-19 action committees operating in the 23 councils of the state will continue to work in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

“Primary Healthcare Centres and hospitals in all the councils will serve as quarantine and limited treatment centres in the event of outbreak of the virus.”

According to the governor, the restriction of movement from 7p.m. to 6a.m. daily, except those on essential services, also continues. He insisted that all markets in the state remain closed, reiterating that only medicine and commodity stores shall be open.

Meanwhile, the Benue State Action Committee on COVID-19 has busted a camp housing persons purportedly trafficked into the state from some states of the North.

The deputy governor and chairman of the committee, Benson Abounu, led a task force of the committee to the camp in Hausa Quarters of Makurdi. Discovered at the camp were youths, mostly in their early 20s, living in tightly clustered conditions in gross violation of social distancing requirements.

When The Guardian interviewed some of the youths, they admitted that they were brought into the state from some northern states to look for job.
Their host (name withheld) admitted that he usually housed youths from all over the North to work as artisans in the state. He, however, denied receiving new migrants since the COVID-19 lockdown on the state.

But residents confided in The Guardian that there had been daily influx of youths to the camp, even after the imposition of the lockdown.They maintained that the youths were usually smuggled in the night in vehicles transporting food items and other essential goods.

An Emergency Response team of the Benue COVID-19 Committee took the blood samples of the youths took them into isolation for further evaluation, in line with established Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols.

Abounu also led the committee to visit other potential camps at the Food Items Loading and Offloading Park on Lagos Close and Bauchi Street, all in the Hausa Quarters.

He further directed that regular security patrols be mounted to police the quarters, adding that same measures would be applied to any area lockdown violation occurs.


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