… As Prosecutors ask courts to make tests mandatory for pandemic violators
By Onozure Dania
About 566 persons have been arrested and 502 convicted for breaching COVID-19 regulations in Lagos, since the emergence of the pandemic’s second wave.
No fewer than 32 clubs and event centres have also been shut by the Lagos State Safety Commission including the Event Hall of Eko Club, which was closed down last Tuesday.
It was gathered that Lagos prosecutors have also begun requesting presiding magistrates to ensure that anyone apprehended for breaching COVID-19 Regulations is made to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test.
These and more were the contents of a January 14 letter from the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.
In the letter, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, addressed the concerns of a lawyer and member of the Body of Benchers, Mr Kunle Uthman, over the pandemic’s second wave in Lagos.
Uthman, in a January 13 letter to the AG, accused the Lagos State Government of inadvertently aiding the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that things were “business as usual” in the state.
He alleged that the state was failing to enforce safety protocols and that government officials were complicit in flouting COVID-19 preventive protocols.
Uthman referenced a “funeral outing party, held with grandiose fanfare without social distancing and failure to enforce the wearing of face masks,” at a “prestigious” club hall in Surulere with capacity in excess of 2,500 persons.
“As it is, day-by-day, these large parties are being organised and attended by even highly placed LASG officials,” he added.
However, in his response, the government described some of Uthman’s conclusions as” misconceptions and inaccuracies which need clarification.”
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He said that the lawyer’s claims that there isn’t any decipherable commitment by the state government “is to blatantly overlook the numerous initiatives and steps taken by the state government to protect lives and property.”
Onigbanjo said: “The State Government never shied away from admitting that Lagos is indeed the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria. But is it “business-as-usual”? Most certainly not.”
He noted that last March 27, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed into Law the first COVID-19 Regulations to be issued by any government nationwide, adding that thousands have been successfully treated and discharged from the state’s isolation centres and home-based care till date.
Onigbanjo said: “When the 2nd wave started, Mr. Governor (even whilst just recovering from being infected with the virus) addressed a press conference on 18 December 2020 and shut down, nightclubs, lounges, concerts and bars. The number of people who could attend social functions/restaurants was reduced and event centres were mandated to get clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission before going ahead with any event.
“A plan to construct three oxygen plants was launched and on the 8th of January 2021, the first installed oxygen plant was commissioned at Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba. This is capable of producing 60 large cylinders a day of high-grade medical oxygen.”
He further stated that apart from arrest of COVID-19 protocols violators, and in furtherance of prosecutors’ request for mandatory COVID-19 test for defendants in Covid-19 trials, anyone who tests positive is immediately taken to an isolation centre.
Onigbanjo added: “COVID-19 tests are still conducted for free at State government test and sample centres. About 20 private labs are to carry out tests in order to provide alternatives to members of the public who want their tests done for a variety of reasons. It is only these private labs who charge a fee for tests.
“The State government is also currently discussing with vaccine manufacturers with a view to making vaccines available to Lagosians.
“As it relates to Event Centres, the extant Regulations remain that all Event Planners must obtain prior clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission (lasgsafetyreg.com) for all events and ensure that any planned gatherings do not exceed the prescribed number, while nightclubs, bars and lounges remain closed”.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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