The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has maintained the directive which bars citizens who choose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from public places.
This is despite an order by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, restraining the Edo State government from going ahead with the implementation of the directive.
The state had warned that “from the second week of September, people may not be allowed to worship in churches and mosques without showing proof of their vaccination cards at the gates.
“Similarly, people will not be allowed to event centres, receptions or parties without showing proof of their vaccination cards.
“People will not be allowed to access banking services from the middle of September 2021, if they are not vaccinated.
This was immediately retrained by an order issued by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam of the Federal High Court.
However, Obaseki, in a statement he personally signed on Wednesday, stated that the Edo State Government has charged its lawyers to challenge the Court order.
This is as he maintained that the restriction against those who choose not to be vaccinated is for the safety and health of citizens of the state.
The statement read, “The attention of the Edo State Government has been drawn to an order by a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, directing the Government to maintain the status quo on the purported compulsory vaccination of its citizens with the COVID-19 vaccine.
“To the best of our knowledge, the order is at best speculative and pre-emptive as the scheduled date for the commencement of the enforcement of the directive by the state government is the second week of September 2021.
“It must be stated that there is an obvious misconception that the directive issued by the government was to make vaccination compulsory for all citizens.
“Although the State Governor, in truth, has the power to make such an order under the Gazetted Quarantine Regulations, this directive is actually only a denial of access to public places of persons who chose not to be vaccinated.
“We believe government’s overriding concern is the safety and health of its citizens.
“We are currently confronted with a situation wherein the Case Positivity Rate (CPR) for COVID-19 hovers between 15 and 25 per cent as deaths are consistently being recorded daily from COVID-19, with unvaccinated persons accounting for 100 per cent of deaths in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“Government, therefore, finds it strange that some persons in purported pursuit of their fundamental human rights would embark on litigation tourism outside of our state, seek to become a source of public health danger and put at risk the safety and health of the larger population.
“Government owes a sacred duty to the populace to take all actions necessary to protect the health of the majority of the citizens and in this connection, an even greater quantity of vaccines is being secured for the use of the people of Edo State.
“The Edo State Government has, therefore, instructed its Lawyers to vigorously pursue and challenge all such orders in the courts from where they emanate and if necessary, at the appellate level, while affirming its position as a law-abiding government.
“It must be made clear that the Government shall continue to pursue all legal and administrative options available for the protection of the best interest of the good people of Edo State.”
The Governor added, “We want to appreciate all leaders in various spheres within the state for their support so far for the vaccination exercise which has resulted in unprecedented uptake of the vaccines by Edo people.
“We thank the churches, mosques, hotels, banks, event centres, restaurants and bars, among others, that have volunteered their premises for use as vaccination posts.
“We want to reiterate that our directives on vaccination stand and so people who are planning social, religious, political or business events after the second week of September should ensure that both themselves and their guests are not only vaccinated but possess vaccination cards as proof of vaccination, as anyone without this proof will not be granted access to crowded facilities.
“We also want to stress that the government is commencing intensive enforcement of use of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to curb the current spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths. These measures include compulsory wearing of facemasks, regular washing of hands under running water and/or use of hand sanitisers, and maintenance of recommended social and physical distancing in public places, among others.
“Consequent on the rapid rise in infections and death from COVID-19, the government may be forced to implement a lockdown if there is a failure to follow the directives for vaccination and compliance with the Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPIs) in order to halt the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 which is currently raging within the state.”