Following the Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi’s directive to lockdown the state for another 14 days (now day 7) in order to battle the spread of Covid-19, otherwise known as Coronavirus, the Punch Newspaper driver named Joshua Momoh has arrested on Sunday, April 19, in Ikere Ekiti, Ikere local government area of the state for smuggling passengers in from Ogun State to the state.
Momoh, who was driving one of the Punch newspaper’s circulation vans, which had supplied copies of the Punch to the newspaper’s agent in Ado Ekiti, but was arrested in Ikere Ekiti on his way back to the Punch head office in Ogun State.
Newsflash247 had reported that a pregnant woman, who is a Community Health Worker with Lagos State, sneaked into Ekiti in spite of the lockdown and the closure of the borders and was tested positive for the COVID-19, otherwise known as Coronavirus pandemic, making her the third infected person in the state.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, said that a PUNCH driver would be prosecuted for flouting the state’s lockdown regulations.
The commissioner, who spoke in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, told journalists that Momoh would be arraigned in court today (Monday).
Momoh, who was driving one of the newspaper’s circulation vans at the time of his arrest, had supplied copies of Sunday Punch to the newspaper’s agent in Ado Ekiti, but was arrested in Ikere Ekiti on his way back to PUNCH head office in Ogun State.
PUNCH’s company policies regulating the conduct of its distribution personnel expressly prohibit its drivers from conveying non-company goods and passengers.
The commissioner for justice and the state police command said Momoh’s arrest followed ‘intelligence’ that newspaper distribution vehicles were used to move passengers within the state in defiance of the state’s lockdown regulations.
Fapohunda said, “Intelligence has it that some newspapers vehicles were smuggling passengers in and out of the state in defiance of the lockdown order. This (Sunday) morning, one of the vehicles belonging to PUNCH was stopped and it was discovered that it had passengers.
“We are going to charge them (the driver and passengers). They will be arraigned tomorrow (Monday).”
The Police Commissioner in Ekiti State, Mr Asuquo Amba, while speaking on the driver’s arrest, said seven passengers were found in the van.
He said, “Following intelligence, our men successfully trailed and apprehended a driver of a vehicle belonging to PUNCH newspapers at about 9.30am on Sunday.
“We discovered that the driver had seven passengers at the back of the Hilux van. Upon apprehension and interrogation, the passengers said they were heading for Ogun State from Ekiti State.”
Reacting to the arrest of the driver, the Editor, The punch, Mr Ademola Oni, expressed shock at the development, describing the incident as regrettable.
He said, “In PUNCH, drivers are not allowed to convey goods and passengers in the company’s distribution vans outside the newspapers which they are meant to transport to various destinations in the country.
“So, it is highly incomprehensible how a driver of an organisation likes PUNCH, which prohibits the transportation of any passenger or goods in its vans, could pack his vehicle with passengers in flagrant violation of the regulations on the restriction of movement in most states at the moment and company policy.
“PUNCH does not, in any way, support the violation of the laws which the Ekiti State Government and other states have put in place to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Our position is that the law should be allowed to take its full course and appropriate punishments meted out in this matter.”