- Authorities in Cross River say so far, they have turned back 11 trucks filled with almajiris attempting to enter the state
- The state task force revealed that the trucks were turned back at Gakem-Benue boundary
- The task force vowed that they will continue to maintain a steady presence at the boundary
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No fewer than 11 trucks conveying almajiris into Cross River were intercepted around a town bordering Benue state in Bekwarra local government area of the state in the month of May alone.
A report by Vanguard indicates that the Cross River state government in collaboration with Peace Corps of Nigeria officials intercepted and sent back the 11 trucks carrying the displaced children.
Head of the Cross River state taskforce team in the area, Mr Omang-Idiege, said the trucks were turned back at Gakem-Benue boundary for carrying large numbers of almajiris against the inter-state lockdown order of the federal government.
Idiege, who is the state commissioner for youth development and skill acquisition, said the 11 trucks were sent back to their places of origin between Monday, May 4 to Sunday, May 17.
He said the taskforce had continued to maintain a steady presence at the boundary, adding that it was the desire of Governor Ben Ayade, to ensure that the Cross River remains Covid-19 free, hence the effective border surveillance.
His words: “President Muhammadu Buhari had announced an interstate lockdown of persons not on essential duties, I wonder why we keep being confronted with trucks at the Gakem-Benue border conveying almajiris.
“We will not succumb to any form of challenge or gratification to allow any passenger vehicle or truck conveying almajiris entrance into the state.”
He commended Ayade for his enforcement strategies and directives that have kept the state Covid-19 free since the outbreak of the pandemic in Nigeria.
On his part, Commandant of Peace Corps Nigeria in the state, Dr Dominic Okweche, said that the corps was driven by the passion to protect Cross River borders against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Okweche said that he has deployed over 100 peace corps personnel across the state since the Covid-19 taskforce was inaugurated.
Meanwhile, UNICEF on Tuesday, May 5 warned that internally displaced children – including in Nigeria - are among the world’s most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The warning came as the organization released a report looking at the risks and challenges facing internally displaced children, and the urgent actions needed to protect them.
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