Professor of Virology, Oyewale Tomori, says security agencies may exploit Nigerians under the guise of enforcing the newly signed Coronavirus Disease Health Protection Regulations (2021).
Tomori, who is the Chairman, Expert Review Committee on COVID-19, said this in an interview with news men on Thursday.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had on Tuesday signed the regulations which made the use of face masks in public places mandatory among other measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19.
The regulation stipulates that no person shall be allowed within the premises of a market, mall, supermarket, shop, restaurants, hotels, event centres, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centres, motor parks, fitness centres or any other similar establishment “except he is wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth; he washes his hands or cleaned the hands using hand sanitiser approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control; and his body temperature has been checked. Any person found to have a body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius shall be denied entry and advised to immediately seek medical attention.”
The part of the regulation which deals with penalties stipulates a fine or six months imprisonment or both for violators.
It also said personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, and other relevant Local Government, State and Federal Government agencies are directed to enforce the provisions of the Regulations.
Speaking with our correspondent on Thursday, Tomori said the regulations should have been made long before now, adding that it was the second wave of the pandemic that jolted the government to do the needful.
He said, “It is something that has been long overdue. This is something that is almost eleven months after the first case came. It looks like the second wave that made us do that. It is being a long time that people have not complied with the non-pharmaceutical interventions and we should have taken proper action to force people to comply for the sake of every other person.
“There is no need for this regulation if we were a disciplined society. If we were a disciplined society, if we care about our health, if we care for each other, then, there will be no need for this regulation. If we don’t want to hurt our neighbours, we will obey those rules and regulations. Nobody tells me don’t put my hands inside the fire because I know the danger. We failed to let our people know the dangers of Covid and that is why they have not complied with the rules.”
The virology professor said all Nigerians would gain from the compliance with the regulations, adding that “we are the winners if we comply with the rules”.
When asked whether security agencies would exploit citizens in the name of enforcing the regulation, Tomori said, “That is a possibility and that is why I am worried about it. You know what happens when rules are made in Nigeria. Somebody will pay a little bribe to escape the law. It is a regular thing and this is not going to be different. But it is important for people to realise that it is their life they are endangering. So, we should not depend on these regulations but depend on persuasion.”
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