By Ebi Perekeme
Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has demanded an explanation from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government over the influx of persons especially Almajiris from the North into states in the Niger Delta region despite the ban on interstate movement.
PANDEF made the demand in a statement by its National Chairman, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga on Sunday.
PANDEF said it is becoming worrisome that vehicles laden with young men from the northern part of the country were being intercepted in various states in the region.
The group noted that there is also a nation-wide curfew from 8.00 pm to 6,00am which is supposedly still in force.
PANDEF, therefore, wondered how with all the rules on ground, the Almajiris are still transiting across the country, in vehicles to the Niger Delta states, without being detected and stopped by security agents.
“This definitely raises doubts about the detachment of security personnel in this disturbing situation,” the statement said.
“Why the mass relocation? What are they going to do in the Niger Delta amidst the coronavirus pandemic? What is their purpose? What is the agenda? We need answers to these questions from the federal government and its security agencies.”
PANDEF said it is further disturbed that the persons from the North are assumed to be Almajiris coming from some states that are fast becoming epicenters of the pandemic in the country.
It noted that even more worrying is the fact that many of the Almajiris relocated to their states of origin in the North have tested positive to COVID-19”.
According to the apex Niger Delta group, the Almajiris and the other persons coming in from the North could pose serious security and socio-economic challenges in the Niger Delta region.
PANDEF called on the government to end such movements immediately to avoid undermining the health and security of the region.
“PANDEF hopes there are no sinister intentions to undermine the health security and safety of the people of the Niger Delta region,” the statement added.
It said it is grateful to God that COVID-19 has largely been contained in States across the Niger Delta, adding that this is obviously due to the proactive measures put in place by the Governors, and the cooperation of the people.
PANDEF warned that nothing should be allowed to destabilize the present situation in the Niger Delta.
It called on Governors of the region to beef up security at the boundaries to check entry by unauthorized persons and called on youths of border communities in the region to remain vigilant and report illegal entries to their state governments.