By Okafor Ofiebor
Security operatives in Rivers have continued to sabotage the movement restriction measures put in place by Governor Nyesom Wike to contain spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The security agents deployed to man the state boundaries and prevent unauthorised entry of vehicles have turned the checkpoints into extortion spots.
Investigation carried out by this correspondent who recently traveled through Elele-Omerelu-Owerri road to Imo State showed that the state’s Covid-19 Taskforce, charged with the responsibility of controlling the borders, has compromised.
Those at sections of the border connecting Abia and Rivers States at Oyigbo, Elele/Omerelu connecting Imo and Rivers States have turned the points to illegal toll gates where they freely extorts money from motorists.
The officers in charge of Mbiama section on the East-West Road connecting Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta States are also not left out in the illegal and harmful trade.
They collect bribes from drivers of trucks carrying both essentials and non-essentials goods and allow them free assess into the state against the spirit of government’s measures to contain the pandemic.
All the borders of the state are presently experiencing heavy traffic of humans and vehicles.
The actions of these Taskforce on border control basically contravenes the mandate handed to them by Governor Nyesom Wike.
Though, members of the Taskforce had earlier accused the Rivers State Government of non-payment of their stipend and other benefits.
It was, however, difficult to confirm veracity of their claim.
The governor himself recently berated security agencies in the state for none enforcement of the the Executive Order on restriction of movements in Rivers as laid down in protocol of COVID-19.
This lapse prompted the need to set-up border control Taskforce following allegations that policemen mounting interstate entry points were involved in massive collection of between N1,000 and N3,500 per truck coming into the state.
This is at a time the governor is working assiduously to reverse the increasing rate of COVID-19 cases in the state.
There are indications that these acts of sabotage, coupled with the refusal of residents to adhere to Covid-19 directive, are responsible for the rising cases of the viral disease in Rivers State.