Imo State introduces tough laws punishing flouting of Covid-19 protocols with six month jail term

GOVERNOR Hope Uzodinma has introduced new laws that punish Imolites who flout Covid-19 restrictions with six month jail terms or a fine of N20,000 if caught by the state task force.


Although Nigeria has been spared the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, there are fears that the virus could spread given the nonchalant approach of most Nigerians to the crisis. Many Nigerians blatantly ignore the health protocols on social distancing, facemask wearing and washing their hands.


Across many states of Nigeria, large gatherings, parties and social events still take place, with many members of the population believing that Covid-19 is a hoax. A recent survey highlighted the fact that about 20% of Nigerians do not even believe that Covid-19 is real and many respondents said they would refuse to be vaccinated.


Aware of the fact that this nonchalance could lead to the virus spreading, Governor Uzodinma said he regretted the complacent attitude of most Imo people towards the invasion of the virus, describing it as mere self delusion. He said that the wearing of face masks will henceforth be enforced with a renewed vigour by the state task force led by Professor Maurice Iwu.


Governor Uzodinma said: “Four mobile courts have been put in place, two in the state capital and one each in Orlu and Okigwe zones to try offenders. The penalty for not wearing face mask is a maximum jail term of six months or N20,000 in lieu.


“The executive order also provides that any gathering of more than 50 persons anywhere in the state is an offence and the conveners of such gatherings also risk six months jail or N20,000 in lieu.


“All hotels, eateries, supermarkets and stores are by this order compelled to provide hand sanitizers, wash hand stands, test the temperature of their customers and insist on face masks before admitting them into their premises. Any store, supermarket, eatery, night club and hotel that fails to adhere to these rules will be promptly shut down and in addition, the proprietors will be prosecuted.


“These measures equally apply to all religious gatherings, marriages and funerals. If it is clear from the realities on ground that extra or more stringent measures must be taken to keep our people safe, I will have no choice but to authorise a second lockdown in the state.


“For those who still don’t believe that coronavirus is real, may I announce to you that this second wave is not only real but deadly. Let us be guided accordingly.”