The Osun state government on Monday commenced the total enforcement of COVID-19 safety protocols in the state.
This was as over 100 violators of the safety protocols were sentenced to community service of various degrees.
The enforcement was in line with the government’s resolve to contain the further spread of the deadly virus.
The government had on Sunday announced the enforcement of stronger punitive measures including the deployment of Mobile Courts, the imposition of fines on defaulters, and more stringent enforcement exercises by the Joint Task Force.
According to the state government, hotels, clubs, and bars that flout COVID-19 safety protocols would be closed and fined N250,000 before they can be reopened while defaulting worship centres shall be closed and fined N100,000 before they can reopen.
The Deputy Governor who doubles as the Chairman, Osun COVID-19 Taskforce, Mr. Benedict Alabi, in a statement, said private hospitals caught treating COVID-19 patients shall have their establishments shut and the owners’ practicing licenses withdrawn saying individuals who flout the safety protocols of the State Government, after being tried, shall be sentenced to community service.
Early Monday morning, members of the enforcement team stormed the popular Olaiya Junction and Old Garage and other strategic locations to enforce the safety protocols and arrest violators.
The Chairman of the enforcement team and the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Adebayo Adeleke, said the action was in line with the government’s commitment to contain the spread of the deadly Coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Adeleke who decried the surge in the number of confirmed cases of the pandemic in the last few weeks noted that the punitive measures were taken to rescue the state and her citizens from the scourge that has been ravaging the state.
He called on residents to comply with the government’s directives on safety measures just as he disclosed that the team would continue to enforce the safety protocols as long as the people flout the rules.
“We are enforcing the law that moving around anywhere in the state without the use of face masks.
“If you can recall, the state of Osun made some legislations out of which it was made illegal for anyone to move around without the use of face masks.
“But recently, we discovered that the number of COVID-19 infected individuals had increased and this is very worrisome to the governor and as a result of this, he, in his good wisdom has said that there is need to enforce those safety rules by ensuring that people comply with the use of facemasks and other precautionary measures.
“When we make arrests, we will take the violators to courts. That is why we have been out since morning to implement the directives.
“As you can see, those we have arrested would be taken to court and judgement would be passed on them accordingly.
“We believe strongly that this will send a message to other people who believe that the use of face masks is a joke. This will also send a warning signal to those who have been flouting the safety protocols.
“I am using this period to appeal to our people to take the safety protocols seriously by ensuring that they wash their hands regularly, use their facemasks, and apply hand sanitizer intermittently”, he said.
Also, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Mrs. Abiodun Ige, said members of the team were out to put a permanent stop to the violation of COVID-19 safety protocols.
She warned residents of the state to always adhere to safety protocols and avoid things that can expose them to the deadly virus.
Speaking on the expectation of government over the enforcement exercise, Ige noted that “it is expected that after the whole exercise no one will go out without using his or her facemasks”.
She added: “We expect that all that we have been saying on the need for the people to stay safe and comply with the safety protocols would be totally adhered to from here on.
“Henceforth, we don’t expect people to go out without their facemasks. We don’t expect people not to use their hand sanitizers or fail to obey social distancing rules, among other precautionary measures.
“As you can see, we have arrested more than 100 violators today and this exercise would continue as long as the people continue to disobey the rules.”
In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate, Mr. Francis Isola Omisade sentenced the first batch of 37 violators to five days community service with an option of N20,000 fine, while the second batch of 19 violators were sentenced to three days community service without an option of fine.
Omisade said the sentence would serve as a deterrent to others on the need for them to be law-abiding citizens.
In the same vein, Magistrate Modupe Awodele who presided over the third batch of 52 defaulters, sentenced them to 3days community service with the option of N2,000 fine each.
Awodele ordered the convicts to render the punishment under the supervision of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Mrs. Abiodun Ige.