Jalingo, the Taraba State capital had been a very quiet, violent free and a city that had been known for an interesting social night life until June 2019 before the outbreak of Coronavirus disease, when the State capital was thrown into continuous curfew following the violent protests over the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governorship election as in the State.
Following the growing tension that characterised the delay in the collation and declaration of last Saturday’s governorship election result in the Taraba State, Governor Darius Ishaku on Monday imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Jalingo, the state capital.
According to the statement, the curfew would run from 6pm to 6am beginning from Monday, March
11, 2019, till further notice. It was however reviewed to run from 9pm to 6am. From that very moment, Jalingo the State capital had been under night curfew for over two years which has crippled the once bubbling social night life and business activities in the state capital.
The curfew was said to have been declared by the State authorities to stem the spread of the violent protest to other parts of the city or towns.
Although the violent protest had been since nipped in the bud, night social life and businesses have not resumed to normal as the restriction of vehicular movement especially tricycle, Keke NAPEP
is still enforced after 8pm in the metropolis. KEKE being the most easiest means of movement in Jalingo, operators are not allowed to operate beyond 8pm.
Corroborating the above view, a brothel operator, who gave her name as Mrs Philomina said, “since the State authorities declared curfew on the State capital, my business is seriously affected.
People no longer relax out beyond 8pm because they would find it difficult to getting to their homes. “Our night activities are affected on a serious note. I pray that government should remove that curfew of a thing so that life can come back to normal.”
Taraba Truth and Facts also gathered that aside hotel operators, other night businesses had suffered the same fate occasioned by the effect of the curfew, as some night street food vendors also lammented how their businesses had completely crippled in the last
two years since the curfew has been in place, saying that life is becoming unbearable in Jalingo.
Mrs Nancy Chukwu, a night food vendor at popular Roadblock,
• Police extortion, others trill prolonged curfew
Jalingo, in an interview with Taraba Truth and Facts shared her pathetic experiences on how she has been going through the thorns of the curfew, expressing her fears that life might continue to be miserable with those that depend on evening or night businesses as a means of living in Jalingo.
“My business has crumbled down and am watching it helplessly. Plenty people work hard in the day time but only have the opportunity to spend their money at night. But with this situation on ground it’s difficult. If you enter Jalingo after 10pm, the city is already asleep, Jalingo used to be a bubbling city at night before the curfew two years ago, we ply our trade till midnight because vehicles coming from long journey like Lagos, Asaba, Kano arrives late and business was boomingbut now we are forced to close business at 9pm latest.
“But if this is for security purposes, it is good. But am appealing to relevant authorities to look into situation for the good of all,” she said.
Also Mr Charles Nwodo, who owns a beer bar at Sabon Line, Jalingo, told our correspondent that life had been tough though he was able to navigate through the period of the curfew, adding that the Police had made situation completely worse and accused them of extortion.
He said the police were always demanding money from him which he had to pay them from the little he was able to make as the curfew revolves around.
He said: “the police come here in a day more than three time especially at night in the name of enforcing the curfew. Each they come they demand for TP, that is transport. Some time when you refuse to give the something even at 7pm the begin send your customers away saying that curfew is in place.
“But God has seen us through till today. At least now life is gradually returning back as you can see everything is picking up small, small but the prolonged curfew should be end in economic interest, Jalingo has been relatively peaceful, security operatives can continue their jobs but lifting the curfew outrightly will stop extortions of the people. “
The story is also the same as the tricycle operators accused the police of high handedness, harassment and extortion from their members, saying they are the worse hit by the unending curfew.
Recall that Taraba Truth and Facts reported how in July, 2019, Tricycle (Keke NAPEP) operators in Jalingo the State capital protested against Police brutality and extortion of their members that paralysed business activities for nearly a week.
One of the KEKE NAPEP operators who gave his name as Umar, said apart from the fact that they have to remit a certain amount of money to owners of their tricycles daily, the police who are supposedly enforcing the night curfew had really made life difficult for them in the last two years, sometimes they collect as high as N5,000 if caught operating beyond the stipulated time of 8pm.
While another Keke NAPEP operator who preferred anonymity, however, said though they suffered in the hands of policemen and night life became harsh in the last two years as the night curfew took center stage, it was necessary and for their good, noting that bad elements among them had turned the business of tricycle operation into criminal activities including handsets, money or bag snatching at night, sometime at gunpoint.
He added that many unsuspecting innocent fall victims of the activities of bad tricycle operators who operate it with criminal mindset, appealing to the police to however pay more attention on those bad guys who
are in the business of operating tricycles simply to commit crimes.
Although efforts made by this newspaper to speak with the Police authorities on the alleged harassment and extortion at night business owners proved abortive, several security sources said the curfew has helped mitigate violence in the state.
“Yes, the curfew is prolonged but it has it own gains too. Jalingo is peaceful because security agencies could monitor suspecting movements at night however government can review the term of reference of the curfew.”