Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Barely 24 hours after governors in the country agreed to a ban on interstate movements, Rivers State Government has arrested 22 traders entering the state from neighbouring Abia State.
The state said the arrest was to ensure the protection of Rivers State’s residents from the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.
The traders, who were arrested in three different sets, said they live in Anambra and Abia states, but usually do business in Rivers State.
They claimed that they were not aware that the lockdown was very serious in Rivers State, because in their respective states, traders are allowed to move around.
One of the traders, Mrs Uju Nnamdi, said she was coming to the state to sell her wares, adding that even though she is aware of the lockdown of the state, she was not aware that her trading would endanger the state.
The driver of the truck, Mr Chijioke John, said he was travelling to Onne in Rivers State from Onitsha, but picked the women at Ihiala in Anambra State.
He said the women pleaded with him to help them and he took pity on them, since they were standing on the road.
The female traders were conveyed in a container to conceal their movement into the state. The driver said he opened one of the container doors for the traders to get ventilation
Rivers State Health Commissioner, Professor Princewill Chike, said the 22 traders would be screened to ascertain their coronavirus status.
He said the screening is vital to ensure that they do not infect the state, adding that his ministry has stationed medical personnel to carry out this responsibility.
He said after the screening, the traders would be tried in line with the extant laws in place to protect the people of the state.
He said it is embarrassing that a transporter would convey human beings in a container just to beat the law.
The accused persons were later tried in a magistrate court assigned for that purpose by the Chief Judge of Rivers State.