Following the directive by the Ondo State Government that all borders across the state be closed as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state, policemen stationed at the Osun State end of the Owena boundary have been allegedly demanding money from motorists seeking entry into Ondo State.
During the monitoring of the border closure, the Ondo State task force team on COVID-19 accused men of the Osun State Police Command of thwarting the efforts of the state government towards protecting residents of the state from the deadly virus.
The task force team led by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Special Duties, Chief Doyin Odebowale, accused the Osun policemen of bribe taking.
Governor Oluwarotimi had last week ordered that all borders that serve as entry points into the state be closed while medical personnel be placed at each point to screen designated persons on essentials duties.
Also given priority to pass through the borders were trucks conveying food stuff and petroleum product with the official permit from the Inspector General Police.
But a staff of the Murtala Mohammed Airport that tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday had made the state government toughen its stance on the border closure.
At the Owode Owena border town of Ondo and Osun States, many vehicles were seen parked after being refused to cross over to Osun State.
Some trucks that were allowed in from the Osun side of the border were found to be conveying other items that were not food or petroleum products including commercial buses conveying passengers from Ibadan, Oyo State.
About four vehicles without permits were impounded by the task force.
Passengers in commercial buses trapped in Ondo end of the border engaged the services of commercial motorcyclists to pass through alternative route which is an abandoned bridge to continue their journey.
When confronted on the bribery allegations, policemen on the Osun end denied collecting money from the drivers.
The Governor’s aide, Odebowale said, “You people are supposed to turn back any unauthorized vehicles but you allowed them to pass through. You are corrupt. You are not doing your work.”
But the Police team led by one Ebisini denied the allegation as he stressed that, “We don’t collect money from anybody and no vehicle has passed through this place. My men are doing their work accordingly.”
Head of the medical team at the border, Dr. Faganyu Adedayo, said over 120 passengers have been screened and anybody found to be having high temperature would be flagged down and referred to the State Epidemiologist and Primary Health Care for further testing.
“We are screening people entering the state. Our security personnel are getting those people passing alternative route to get here and get tested.”
Some commercial drivers, however, lamented the continued closure of the border.
One of the drivers, Mahmud Karim, who was stranded at the Owode Owena border said hunger would not make him contract Coronavirus.
“I am going to Osun State. Coronavirus is a sickness we only hear about and have not seen. We poor people are suffering. I ply between Ondo-Osun-Ibadan. They should allow us find daily bread to eat. I have spent three hours here. Since February 15, I have been at home. It is just today I came out to work and now I am trapped here. It is everyday drivers are trapped here. I am not afraid of Coronavirus. Hunger will not make Coronavirus close to me.”
Another driver, Aminu Okuola, said, “I have spent two hours. We were not allowed into Osun. All my passengers have left with Okada. I carried three passengers per seat. I am appealing that we need money to buy food. The passengers will use Okada to cross old bridge to either Osun or Ondo State.”
The Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, said the state is doing everything to stop the spread of the pandemic.
He said more efforts would be put in place to tighten the borders.