The Lagos and Ogun State governments have made multiple public claims to stop interstate movements as part of measures to curtail the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in their respective states but checks by The ICIR revealed that such announcements are mere ‘audio announcements’ as essential and non-essential workers still travel in and outside both states.
Despite the fact that Ogun and Lagos states have both recorded about 40 percent of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, many residents of both states have continued to commute in and out of the states with little or no restrictions.
And the security agents act indifferent, in some case, they even aid commuters to undermine the lockdown order.
There are varieties of options available to residents willing to go in or out of both Lagos and Ogun despite the interstate lockdown.
Unrestricted movements and Unchecked Boundaries
After the state governments’ announcement, security officials consisting of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) were deployed to enforce the lockdown at the boundary between the states.
At the Toll Gate on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, there were heavily armed security men.
On the side of the road that leads to Ogun state, only essential travellers or those with permits are allowed passage.
The cars are checked one after the other as the road has been narrowed with blockades by the security forces giving way for restricted access.
On the other side of the road which leads to Lagos, the security forces are also on the road ensuring that no vehicles are allowed passage, but passengers can disembark and walk past the barricade to Lagos.
Therefore, commuters travelling from any part of Ogun to Lagos would alight at the Toll Gate, a few meters from the security checkpoint, walk casually into Lagos state where they board another bus into the metropolis.
Although, the commuters are checked for compliance with the face mask guideline by health authorities beyond that, they are never stopped from entering or exiting the states.
Just like the Toll Gate boundary, another Ogun – Lagos boundary at Mowe/Ibafo is no different.
On getting to the popular Berger bus stop, commuters would alight from cars or buses then walk their way into Lagos state and vice versa.
Lagos and Ogun states share many boundaries but as observed by The ICIR some of these boundaries are unpatrolled hereby jeopardising the purpose of the interstate lockdown as declared by the two state governments.
During a visit by The ICIR to Iju-Ishaga in Lagos state bordering Ajuwon, Ogun state, the boundary was left unmarked and one could hardly differentiate the entry point except through signposts of local businesses nearby that show different states.
Iju-Ishaga, Lagos state also shares another boundary with Agbado which falls under Ogun state but like the other boundary, this boundary is also unpatrolled, but unlike the other, there is a sign that indicates entrance and exit from Ogun state.
Why we must travel to and from Lagos – Ogun Residents speak
Baba Mathew, a 43 years old man who works in Apapa, Lagos stood at the Toll gate on Monday, 11th May waiting to board a bus to his workplace.
After a while, he got tired and stepped back to continue to waiting for another vehicle.
He told The ICIR that he must, by all means, get to his workplace in Apapa.
He spends five working days in Lagos and returns home on weekends to his family in Ota, Ogun State.
“Where would I stay in Lagos after work on Fridays? Nowhere! So I must come home to my family, he told The ICIR.
He added that he has never considered living in Lagos state due to the high cost of living and housing.
“The stress is much for me too, most especially during this lockdown but I don’t have a choice because I can’t afford to feed my family in Lagos and do you know how much an apartment costs in Lagos state? It’s a no-go area for me, so I just have to keep going and coming back,” Mathew said.
Similar to his situation is that of Joseph Akanbi who also works in Lagos State but lives in Dopemu, Ogun State.
To him, it’s a matter of survival, if he doesn’t go to work in Lagos state, he would lose his job to someone that stays in Lagos hence he must travel despite the restriction orders.
He told The ICIR that it is essential for him to travel everyday because he has to earn something for the family.
“If I decide to stay at home no one would feed me and my family, so i must go, it’s better to struggle to get to Lagos and come back to Ogun than watch my children starve or turn into beggars,” Akanbi said.
According to him, he lives with his wife and four children who now eat more than usual because they stay at home all day.
Dorcas Akiigebe, a health worker in Lagos state has a house of her own in Ogun state which is why she has to commute between states everyday.
“Everyone has their reason for travelling but as for me, I am an health worker for my community in Yaba LCDA and I have a house here in Ifo Ogun state, I usually come home to rest when I am off duty,” she said.
We don’t control the security personnel, says Lagos government
The Lagos State government in an interview with The ICIR said they do not control the security forces.
“We are not in control of the military or the police, we are preaching they (people) should take responsibility but people take the law in their hand, the governor has spoken against this act,” said the Lagos state Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho
He said the government only make laws and it is left to the security agents to enforce the laws.
Omotosho said although the government does not have evidence of people disembarking vehicles and walking into the state but they have heard people say that.
“I don’t have any evidence but people have been talking about it that people disembark the vehicle and walk into the state,” Omotosho told The ICIR.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Police Command, Bala Elkana said the police has been doing all it can to ensure people comply to the guidelines but insisted that people are fond of devising means to defy the law.
He added that most of Lagos-Ogun boundaries are communities and it is impossible to achieve a hundred percent boundary closure unless one is to shut down the nearby community.
About the unpatrolled boundaries, Elkana said he is unaware that are unpatrolled boundaries. He said with this information, he would look into it and take action.
The spokesperson to Ogun State Government, Remi Hassan, has not answered calls and messages from The ICIR as at the time of filing this report.
On the other hand, the Ogun State Police Command blamed the people for devising means to beat the security network.
However, Abimbola Oyeyemi, the Ogun state police spokesperson said the command would continue to improve on measures to enforce the law.
“Some of our people are very recalcitrant and since we have reslised that we have been devising measures to put an end to that that is why you’ll hear that we have been intercepting some people traveling into the state and sending them back to where they came from some have been fined,” Oyeyemi said.
As at the time of this publication, commuters still travel in and out of Lagos and Ogun States with little or no restriction.