The Lagos State Police Command has disclosed that it has to educate the citizens on coronavirus before enforcing the orders and guidelines given by the government since the disease is new to everybody in the country.
In a chat with journalists, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, said the police could not enforce the new order like the conventional ones dealing with other crimes such as robbery, killing, kidnapping and others.
He said: “It is something new to all of us even from the law enforcement angle. None of our generation has witnessed this in the past. Enforcing the order is not like the conventional law enforcement where we deal with armed robbery, kidnapping etc.
“This is a virus we are fighting, we have to try to educate our men to enforce this order with compassion and with human face which is why the Commissioner of Police has tagged it ‘persuasive enforcement’. We have deployed our resources to all the boundary communities, all the 14 points that we have identified that border Ogun and Lagos have been manned to ensure that ban on non-essential interstate travel is enforced.
“Within the town also, those who are exempted during the lockdown period were allowed to go out to conduct their essential services. Those not exempted were stopped while those apprehended were charged to court.
“Now that we are in the second phase, which is gradual easing of lockdown in Lagos as pronounced by the President, we have restriction of movement from 8pm to 6am. We have our deployment all over to make sure that the curfew is obeyed and to a large extent, we have gotten a lot of compliance from Lagosians because at this stage, quite a number of people accept that we are all at war against a virus and everyone must take personal responsibility in combating this virus and stopping the further spread of the virus.
“Definitely the compliance we have now is higher than what we had in the first week of the lockdown. Because then, most people don’t even understand what we are doing. The assumption from the onset was this virus is for the rich not the poor until they see even their neighbor testing positive for the virus for them to see that this is real and then the compliance is high.”
Speaking on those who trek across the borders into Lagos, Elkana said: “The challenge is, there are free days that vehicles were allowed to move in Ogun state during the lockdown. So, when vehicles stop them at the boundary, they drop and cross to Lagos with their legs. But now that we are on the same page, we are working closely with Ogun that even those vehicles should not even get to the border communities which has given us improvement now because we have deployment from both Ogun and Lagos to stop movement.
“One difficult aspect again is many who work in Lagos but live in Ogun and are also essential service providers. For example, I have some of my men here who live in Ogun. If you say ‘don’t move’, then they cannot come to work. But for those who are on nonessential service, we stop them and that’s why you will see the massive arrests we have made and the vehicles impounded.
“Some also think they are smart especially the trailers. They are allowed to bring food during the period but not carry more than 7 persons. They hide more people under the items because they think we will not check. With our thorough check, the last one we got 42 persons from one trailer. We got them arrested and sent the trailer back not to enter our jurisdiction.
“When they saw our idea, they changed to dropping the passengers at a distant place who now walk through the border communities to join the trailer in front after it has been cleared. We have discovered that too. We have told traditional rulers and community leaders not to allow people like this use their community as passage and this collaborative effort is working.”
However, the Police spokesperson warned those who think they could outsmart the Police, saying all violators caught would be severely dealt with.
“First, the law is no respecter of persons. Secondly, the law enforcement agents are a step ahead of anyone who thinks they are smart in lawbreaking. We had 208 travelers arrested recently so it is not just the drivers but the passengers too because the law says no interstate travel for non-essential purposes. We will keep taking them to court to face the full wroth of the law, he said.