Following the successful management of 127 returnees from Ivory Coast, who arrived Nigeria, penultimate week, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt from reliable sources that another batch of 67 Nigerians are currently on their way to Ejigbo, headquarters of Ejigbo Local Government Area of Osun State.
The returnees, who reportedly experienced difficulty securing pass from the government of Ghana due to the lockdown in the country as a result of the coronavirus disease, were still stranded in Togo as of 1a.m. Nigerian time.
The Togolese authorities reportedly denied them access to pass through the border but this newspaper learnt efforts were on to involve Nigeria’s ambassador to the country. Similar intervention had helped while they were held up in Ghana, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
But as at the time of filing this report, reliable sources in Ejigbo, who are in the know of the journey but do not want to be named, confided in our reporter that they knew because the drivers bringing them have their park in the town.
One of them said; “Let me tell you the truth, more Nigerians will leave Ivory Coast. The situation in Abidjan is much more complex than any of our states here, not even Lagos. As I am talking to you, about 67 are on their way. We are aware because the drivers bringing them are from Ejigbo here.
“But our concern is in the bad name being given to our town. Many of them are not from here, but they are Nigerians. The 127 that were dumped here the other day, how many of them are from Ejigbo, yet everyone was shouting “Ejigbo, Ejigbo.”
Coronavirus in Ivory Coast
As of early Wednesday morning, Ivory Coast had recorded 349 confirmed cases of Coronavirus as against Nigeria’s 254.
Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital just like Lagos, has since been on lockdown while curfew was declared across other regions.
One of our reliable sources said the larger percentage of Nigerians living in Ivory Coast are resident in Abidjan.
“So it is very difficult for our people to cope in such an environment, and since they have a place they can call home, returning to Nigeria is their best option. And I don’t think their country should disappoint them at this crucial time,” the source said.
Controversies over first set of returnees
But for the prompt action from the state government, the controversies that accompanied the arrival of the first batch of 127 returnees into the state penultimate week had almost snowballed into crisis as some of the returnees who tested positive to the coronavirus disease had escaped from the unity grammar school where they were camped by government.
The returnees, mostly traders, had accused the government of subjecting them to ridicule, with many threatening to violently attack government officials including the state’s health commissioner, Rafiu Isamotu.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt it took the intervention of soldiers who were drawn from 401 Engineering Construction Regiment, Ede, to calm strained nerves.
Meanwhile, when the result of the whole 127 returnees were conducted, 17 of them tested positive for coronavirus with two of the positive cases said to be indigenes of Abia State, South-east Nigeria.
According to the state governor, Gboyega Oyetola, who addressed the press upon completion of the test on Sunday, 42 of the returnees were not from the state, but had boarded buses that were heading to the state from Ivory Coast.
Both Nigeria’s interior minister, Rauf Aregbesola, and health minister, Osagie Ehanire, had explained that although Nigeria’s borders are closed, the country was duty-bound to ensure its citizens could return to the country at any time.
We’re unaware yet –Osun
Meanwhile, the chief press secretary to Mr. Oyetola, Ismail Omipidan, said the state was yet to be notified of any new returnee but promised to find out and get back to our reporter.
“I am not yet aware of that but kindly give me till morning to find out since it is very late now,” Mr Omipidan said.
But one of the community leaders in Ejigbo, who also pleaded anonymity but confirmed the development, said to avoid the repeat of the experience, last week, the government was already notified. The source, however, could not reveal the channel through which the government was informed.
He suggested that the government was not enthusiastic about the development, saying apart from the fact that the returnees may belong to other states, the government is complaining of lean purse.
The source said; “Don’t let anyone deceive you, they are already aware but the government is being careful. Some of us really understand. To test the whole 127 of the first batch and taking care of about 20 confirmed cases cost a lot of money, yet the federal government hasn’t given the state a dime.
“I want to believe the state government wants the federal government to take up the responsibility. At least, instead of those it wants to go and evacuate, these ones have evacuated themselves and should be taken care of.”
Efforts to get the reaction of the chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa on the matter were not successful as a message sent to her mobile phone was yet to be replied as at the time of filing this report.
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