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COVID-19: Joint Task Team warns transporters against conveying illicit goods, passengers

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The Joint Technical Task Team (JTTT) on Emergency Response to COVID-19 on Challenges of Movement of Food and Agricultural Inputs has warned transporters against conveying illicit items and passengers.

The Plateau Commissioner of Police, Mr Edward Ebuka, JTTT Chairman in the state, gave the warning at the inauguration of the committee in Jos on Monday.

Ebuka, who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Administration), Mr Warebi Owatorufa, said that any transporter caught would be decisively dealt with.

The commissioner said that the JTTT was set up by the Federal Government to ease movement of agricultural products and services to all parts of Nigeria during the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that the committee would be thorough and committed in ensuring that the purpose for its establishment was met.

The Plateau Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Istifanus Finangwai, who inaugurated the team also commended the Federal Government for the initiative.

Finangwai lauded Federal Government’s proactive steps in ensuring that agricultural business, which was central to human existence, go on unhindered during the pandemic.

The commissioner, however, advised the team to go about its responsibilities without compromise.

He said that the state government had on its part, created an enabling environment for farmers to take advantage of the natural endowments of the state.

Finangwai pointed out that Plateau was blessed with fertile soil, where almost all the products produced from the state were considered to be one of the best if not the best in the country and beyond.

“Plateau Government will liaise with you in ensuring that you succeed in this assignment.

“Government will frown where there is compromise,” he said.

Mr Haruna Akwashiki, State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), said that Nigeria and indeed the whole world was fighting two battles; coronavirus and hunger.

Akwashiki, who is the Secretary of the JTTT, said that the team was to devise strategies to ensure that food and agricultural products reached all parts of the country during the lockdown.

“The Honourable Ministers of Agriculture, Defence, Interior and Police Affairs met on April 20, 2020 and after in-depth deliberation, came up with a Joint Technical Task Team (JTTT).

“The JTTT comprised the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN).

“Others are the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) was set up at the national level.

“The JTTT is to be replicated at both the state and local government area levels throughout the country,” he said.

According to him, the team would come up with strategies that would ensure minimal impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the year 2020 farming season in line with the directive of Mr President.

Akwashiki added that all the occupants of vehicles conveying food and agricultural inputs must have protective and sanitary items such as face masks, sanitisers and tissue papers.

He emphasised that those were part of the items to be checked by security agents at checkpoints before granting access to any truck.

Edited By: Abiodun Esan/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)