Thousands of residents in Sapele, Delta State, on Wednesday, 15th April turned streets upside down as the government imposed another 14days lockdown.
Through a broadcast on Tuesday, 14th April, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa extended the lockdown which already started on the 1st of April and suppose to ended on the same day, to another 14 days to properly curtail the spread of COVID-19, but this didnt go down well with the people of Sapele.
Another 14days dusk to dawn curfew? In defiance, women in their thousands took to the streets of Sapale around 7:30a.m., demanding an end to the lockdown and chanting, “We no go gree o, we no go gree,” others chanted, “freedom, freedom.”
The women in their thousands were joined by other residents of the town, including artisans, tricycle and motorcycle riders and others. “We prefer to come outside and die than to be locked indoor. We have stayed indoors for two weeks, we can’t go to the market, we can’t go anywhere, we are hungry, we will not accept this,” Madam Tina Akpometiro, one of the women leaders told Vanguard.
Another woman, who introduced herself as Mrs Oke James, said, “We are hungry and we don’t have food. Let them allow us to go out and fend for families. We want to go back to our normal lives, we are tired of sitting at home with nothing to feed our families.”
A tricycle rider, who identified himself as Jonah Ameh said, “Though the steps are right, we are tired of not being able to fend for our families and want an end to the lockdown.”
Others, who spoke were Sapele-Okpe Community leader, Dr. Vincent Ekariko, and Mr Aderopo Peters, a doctor, who demanded immediate release of food items, saying Deltans are hungry.
The Sapele council chairman, Eugene Inoaghan, who tried to pacify the crowd with loads of security men was openly rebuffed, with the crowd chanting, “We want freedom, we want freedom.”
However, there was pandemonium when the chairman left, with the crowd openly confronting security men with stones, an action that led to burning of tyres and wood. ….
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Reacting to the protest, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, said this was not the best time for those opposed to government to pitch the people against government decision on how best the Coronavirus pandemic could be defeated.
Aniagwu said the struggle was not between people and the government, adding that the struggle was between the government and the people on one side and Covid 19 on the other side.
Urging the people to continue to cooperate with the government in the fight against Covid 19, he expressed hope that normalcy would soon return, adding that the live of every Deltan was important and that Governor Okowa was working hard to protect Deltans against the coronavirus pandemic.
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He said the state government had concluded plans to distribute food palliative this weekend, as the Okowa’s administration was committed to the wellbeing of all Deltans.
In the same vein, the Delta State Police Command, yesterday said it arrested 18 persons in connection with Wednesday’s protest by women in Sapele who took to the streets to protest the two weeks extension of the lockdown imposed in the state by the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
This is just as the State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, took a swipe at the state government’s description of the protest as “politically motivated”, adding that the position of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP led state government is an “embarrassing attempt to divert attention from the State Government ineptitude in bringing about things that benefits Deltans.”
Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Sylvester Imonina in a statement yesterday, explained that in as much as the APC throws its weight behind the state government on the lockdown to check the spread of the pandemic in the state, the party is embarrassed by the spontaneous comments by the state government through the Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu who described the protest as politically motivated.
The party in the statement said: “APC, Delta sees that embarrassing statement from the Commissioner for Information as an attempt to divert attention from the State Government’s ineptitude in bringing about things that benefits Deltans.
Moreso, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege has appealed for calm over the protests in Sapele, Delta State against the state government’s two-week extension of lockdown.
Omo-Agege also condemned, in strong terms, the alleged shooting of one of the protesters by security agents and called for the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
According to a statement signed by Yomi Odunuga, the Senators Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Omo-Agege believed the prosecution of the culprits would serve as a deterrent to other trigger-happy security men.
While noting that the lockdown has caused untold hardship on the people, the lawmaker pointed out that the long-term benefits of the stay-at-home order is to protect the citizens from contracting the deadly Coronavirus.
He explained that authorities at all levels of government are making frantic efforts to get palliatives to the poorest of the poor.
Senator Omo-Agege recalled that around 1919 when the population of the area now known as Nigeria was only a fraction of what it is today, not less than half a million people died of a virulent global influenza pandemic brought by overseas ship passengers into coastal areas from where it spread elsewhere.
“No doubt, the lockdown has caused difficulties and inconveniences for many citizens but in these trying times, it takes courage for our elected leaders to adopt global best practices by extending the lockdown to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease and save lives.”
“As President Buhari and governors, including Governor Okowa of Delta State have said, our common objective is to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action while ongoing comprehensive public health measures including case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities are intensified.”
“No doubt, the lockdown has caused many inconveniences for millions, especially for our daily wage earners and many others in the informal sector but for a disease that ravages with no guarantee of cure, and the fact that life has no duplicate, staying at home to curb its spread is a most reasonable imperative.”
“Too many lives are being lost and far too many families are going through deep grief caused by COVID-19; while the Delta State government weighs possibilities of making things better, we should all strive to appreciate the deep seriousness of the issue.”
“Nonetheless, warnings about social distancing, hand-washing and other preventive measures given by relevant state and federal authorities deserve our adherence.”
“These are trying times, palliatives and sacrificial giving from the government, the private sector and individuals can make things easier. Importantly, we all need to support efforts being made by the federal and state authorities including the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) towards curbing Corvid-19 and saving our people’s lives,” he stated.