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36 arraigned in Lagos for flouting social distancing directive

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Thirty-six people who allegedly flouted the stay-at-home order of the Lagos State Government were on Wednesday brought before a Yaba Chief Magistrates’ Court in the state.

The government charged  Emeka John, Kingsley Jacob,  Chukwuma Okwubaba  Luke Eboro and 32 others with being in a gathering of more than 20 people, in violation of the social distancing directive of the state government.

Thirty-three of the defendants admitted guilty while three – Adetutu Adurogbangba, Segun Joshua and Obi Okoye – pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution team led by Mr Cyril Ejiofor from Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, had told the court that the defendants committed the offence on  Wednesday (April 8) on Bush Street/Gbagada Express Road, Ogudu, Lagos.

He alleged that the defendants gathered themselves in the above-mentioned address, contrary to the social distancing directives.

Earlier, counsel to the defendants, Mr Oluwafunlola Salam, prayed the court to quash the charge, claiming  that the court had no jurisdiction to try the case.

He argued that the charge was unknown to law,  saying that it stemmed from governor’s directive  yet to be presented to the state House of Assembly or passed into law.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the  Chief Magistrate, Mr Peter Ojo, however, dismissed the objection.

He sentenced the defendants who pleaded guilty to one month of community service.

He directed that before the commencement of the community service, they should  be isolated for 14 day at the Infectious Disease Control Centre, Yaba, or any facility available in the state.

He ordered  that they should also be tested for the COVID-19.

“If their tests show negative twice, they should proceed to the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, to carry out the community service,” he held.

He added that the three defendants who pleaded not guilty should  also be kept in isolation at the centre for 14 days and tested accordingly.

The chief magistrate ordered that if certified COVID-19 negative twice, the defendants  should be re-arraigned  before the court.

“Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should undergo treatment compulsorily and be brought before the court again for arraignment  or serve sentence as the case may be.

NAN reports that the  offence is contrary to the social distancing  directives of the Governor of Lagos State made pursuant to Regulation 8(1) (a) (b) and 17(1) (I) of the Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulation, 2020.

It is punishable under Section 58 of the Public Health Law of Lagos State, 2015.

The case has been adjourned until April 21 for mention.

Edited By: Ijeoma Popoola
(NAN)

Teniola Ibitola: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng