April 23, 2020 / 11:22 AM / a month ago

Nigerian governors to ban interstate movement to contain coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A traffic jam formed by people trying to leave Abuja ahead of lockdown as the authorities try to limit the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

ABUJA (Reuters) - The governors of Nigeria’s 36 states have agreed to ban interstate movement for two weeks in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, a joint statement said.

Lagos and Ogun states, as well as Nigerian capital Abuja, are already under federally imposed lockdowns, while various states have instigated their own containment measures.

“Governors unanimously agreed to the implementation of an interstate lockdown in the country over the next two weeks to mitigate the spread of the virus from state to state,” the Nigeria Governors’ Forum said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

Only essential services will be permitted, the statement added without providing further detail.

Only President Muhammadu Buhari can impose a total cessation of interstate movement. However, individual states can block entry points. States including Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Ebonyi, and Abia have already used barriers to stop people entering their states.

A spokesman for the president’s office declined to comment.

Rivers state, the home to the oil hub of Port Harcourt, recently detained oil workers and helicopter pilots who arrived in the state despite a federal government waiver allowing them to travel.

Nigeria has reported 873 confirmed coronavirus cases and 28 deaths from the virus.

Reporting By Camillus Eboh in Abuja, additional reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Libby George; Editing by Alexis Akwagyiram and David Goodman

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