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Lagos Assembly supports jail term for COVID-19 guidelines defaulters

By Idowu Abdullahi

Lawmakers at the Lagos State House of Assembly have backed the state’s Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on his plan to begin strict enforcement of coronavirus safety protocols, including six months jail term for defaulters of the guidelines.

They argued that that enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols among residents of the state remains the only option to break the virus transmission chain and protect the state’s from the imminent dangers that could arise from high statistics of positive cases.

The lawmakers maintained that the decision to back the governor had been reached following outright disregard for protocols introduced against the pandemic by some residents and visitors to the state.

Taking turns to speak during plenary on Monday, the members of the House also asked the governor to call on the state’s Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso, to embark on enlightenment campaigns and education of the people concerning the dangerous effects of the pandemic on the society.

Prior to the decision of the lawmakers, Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, noted that the state, just like the country, cannot afford another lockdown because of the adverse effect such would have on the economy.

Obasa said that there was a need for more enlightenment because COVID-19 in the state and country was taking a dreadful dimension, adding that the life of every single individual in Lagos remains precious and as such, there must be conscious efforts to protect the residents.

Kicking off the debate, the acting Chairman of the House Committee on Health and member representing Oshodi/Isolo 1, Hakeem Sokunle, had raised concerns over the new wave of COVID-19 in the state.

It would be recalled that Sanwo-Olu, had yesterday, during his monthly coronavirus update, raised concerns over what he described as “widespread flagrant disregard and non-adherence to guidelines and protocols aimed at stemming and curbing the tide of infection”.

Worried by the development, the governor noted that the plans had been concluded to begin enforcing the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021 signed last week by President Muhammadu Buhari, which attracts a fine or six months imprisonment upon conviction of defaulters.

“We particularly note that some event centers have been operating their premises outside the acceptable parameters for operation/usage and continue to be recalcitrant in this regard.

“This is to sound a very serious note of warning that henceforth all those found culpable and in breach of the existing regulations and guidelines would be swiftly and decisively dealt with in full accordance with the provisions of the law.

“A breach of the provisions of the Presidential Regulations attracts upon summary conviction, a fine or six months imprisonment and or both. Our enforcement agencies have been appropriately tasked to ensure maximum compliance.

“All Lagosians are enjoined to continue to observe all laid down guidelines and protocols issued by both the State and Federal governments for the effective containment and treatment of the novel coronavirus disease,” he said.

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