Priscilla Ediare, Ado Ekiti

Armed officers of the Ekiti State Police Command on Thursday dispersed traders and buyers who flooded major markets in the state for non-compliance with the social distancing order of the state government.

The policemen were at Bisi Market and Oja Oba both in Ado Ekiti and Shasha Market in Ikere Ekiti to stop ongoing trading.

The officers, who stormed the markets in police pick-up vans and an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), were civil with the traders and buyers who came to the markets in effecting their closure.

Transactions were stopped at the two large markets in the state capital as traders and buyers filled them without observing social and physical distancing protocols.

The outpouring of residents who were utilising the one-day window of opportunity to restock food and other necessities caused a major traffic snarl with traders displaying their wares on the road.

The Commander of Mobile Police (MOPOL 33), ACP Samuel Erhale, who led the policemen to Oja Oba and Bisi Market about 10:30 am gave the traders thirty minutes to pack their wares and leave for neighbourhood markets immediately.

Social and physical distancing was observed at Shasha Market in Ikere-Ekiti but Erhale insisted that holding the market violated the government’s directive.

After holding consultations with the Sarkin Shasha, Erhale who is also the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Operations (AC-OPS) of the state police command, gave the traders and their customers thirty minutes to evacuate their goods and leave.

Erhale said the crowded scenes at the markets could lead to further spread of COVID-19 in the state.

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He advised them to take their wares to the available neighbourhood markets as directed by the government.

The police chief further lectured the traders on the need to observe physical and social distancing in line with the advisory of the state government.

He insisted that the instruction of the state government was that Oja Oba and Bisi Markets should not be opened for business, hence, the enforcement of the order to close them.

They waited until the traders evacuated their goods from the two markets in Ado Ekiti before heading to the market in Ikere to enforce the same order.

Scores of officers kept vigil at Oja Oba and Bisi Market to ensure that traders and customers did not resume business again as another group of officers headed to Ikere

Although shops within the Shasha Market in Ikere remained shut, buying and selling was still going on when the policemen arrived at about 11:20 am.

The market became a ghost town after the thirty minutes given to traders to disperse had lapsed.

It was learnt that traders had arrived at the markets from all parts of the state as early as 5:00 am to transact businesses.

The huge number of people at the two main markets in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, fuelled concerns that many residents run a high risk of COVID-19 infections.