New STF Commander lands in Plateau hours to lockdown

4 min read
Gen. Agundu, Governor Lalong and Gen. Okonkwo

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong says he will remain proactive in dealing with crime and violence in the State.

Dialogue, community Policing and intelligence, Lalong said will remain his strategies to building peace in the State.

In a chat with the newly deployed Commander, Special military Task Force, Operation Safe Haven, Major General C. C. Okonkwo in Jos, Tuesday, Lalong pledged state partnership with the military to consolidate on the returning peace in the State.

“We have achieved a lot with General Agundu who came here in 2018 at the heat of crises and together we worked hard to restore substantial peace.

“Our Prayer is that at the end of your tour of duty, Plateau will achieve total peace and you will also be lifted like many people both the Armed Forces and other sectors who after serving in our State went to higher places,” Lalong told Gen. Okonkwo.

The new STF Commander equally pledged his cooperation to fully restore peace in the State.

“We will together work to achieve the peace we desire, and I will be sure to build on the successes recorded by Gen. Agundu,” said Okonkwo.

The outgoing STF Commander, Gen. Christopher Agundu in his remarks praised Governor Lalong’s “doggedness and commitment” to the protection of lives and properties of citizens, which he said eased the work of the Task Force.

Gov. Lalong, Gen. Agundu

Enforcing lockdown

The meeting was the formal takeover of the peacekeeping operations in the Stare by the new Commander.

Maj. Gen. Agundu, posted to Plateau in July 2018 was last week transferred to the Nigerian Army Resource Centre (NARC), Abuja as Senior Research Fellow.

The then Special Adviser Nigerian Army University, Biu, Maj. Gen. C.C. Okonkwo takes over from him in a “routine/normal exercise intended to reinvigorate the system for greater professional effectiveness and efficiency,” a press statement from Col. Sagir Musa, the Nigerian Acting Director, Army Public Relations last week says.

Okonkwo might be expected to take part in the enforcement of the one week lockdown by the State authorities starting Thursday midnight.

Governor Lalong on Tuesday announced the lockdown for onward fumigation of the 17 Local Governments Areas of the State.

Lalong, Agundu and Okonkwo

During this period, there will be no movement “of any kind” except for Security Agencies, Medical and Health workers, Power and Energy Staff, Fire Service, Media, Telecom Operators and Fuel deliverymen, said the Governor.

Previous efforts to fight COVID-19

At the confirmation of the first coronavirus case in Nigeria, Plateau officials constituted a monitoring and enforcement task force with the Governor as Chairman. The Task Force has was to ensure Awareness and advocacy, Medical Facility Management and Health Services, Enforcement, Border Management and Traffic Secretariat and Logistics.

Shortly later, a situation room was created under the Secretariat and Logistics Committee to collate information and monitor activities of the various committees and the Local Governments.

These five sub-committees were replicated in each of the 17 Local Government Areas with the Executive Chairmen heading the Central Committees.

The Covid-19 Taskforce under the Governor meets every day to receive briefs, analyse and review strategies of the entire response.

Part of guidelines proposed by the committee and adopted by the state were sanitation and personal hygiene; crowd control of not more than 50 people; maintaining of social distance of 2 metres and 5 metres apart for traders selling food items.

Officials also undertook a facility tour of Plateau Specialist Hospital, Jos University Teaching Hospital and Bingham University Teaching Hospital to assess the state of medical facilities and capacity to respond to Covid-19 pandemic.

Lalong (middle) touring hospitals

After receiving complaints on insufficient respirators and other essentials, the Governor immediately directed the purchase of some ventilators, which are being received at the moment.

The State instantly purchased Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Monitors, Infrared Thermometers, Oxygen, Concentrators and other essential drugs. Furthermore, the state started looking inwards to identify potentials for ideas and innovations to fight the disease.

Thus, a local rising engineer, Jerry Mallo was engaged to produce ventilators while two others, Nura Jibrin and William Gyang resuscitated broken ventilators at JUTH.

In addition, the state has started moves to establish more Covid-19 Isolation Centres in Pankshin and Shendam to cover the other Senatorial districts in the State.

Also, in line with the Federal Government’s Directive, the State propose to establish a 300-bed Treatment Centre to be located at the Riyom General Hospital and the State NYSC Camp.

The State Emergency Operation Centre at the Epidemiology Centre Jos, was equally activated and is now functional.

While these were on, the Information and Sensitization sub COVID-19 Committee embarked on dialogue and interface with Local Government Chairmen, Traditional, Religious and Community leaders to get them on board in the fight against the disease.

In the course of implementation, all markets were closed except those selling food items, pharmaceuticals and other essential items. We also put a ban on all anniversaries and cultural festivals.

Plateau officials meet

Vehicles were also restricted to carry 1, 4 and 6 passengers (i.e. Keke Napep, Cars and Buses) respectively.

So far, the State has recorded 48 suspected cases which were investigated and all found negative. Total discharge from self-isolation are 25 while eight are still under surveillance. The state surveillance team is already in place and will continue to be vigilant in identifying cases.

Currently, checkpoints at already shut entry points to the State are on 24hr surveillance and preliminary screening of commuters.

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