Edo to challenge court order barring COVID-19 vaccine card directive

...may impose lockdown if residents fail to comply

Despite a court order restraining Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his government from limiting unvaccinated persons to access public spaces from the second half of September, the governor said the directive on COVID-19 vaccination cards as a pass to large gatherings still stands.

Briefing journalists on Wednesday in Benin City, he said the State government has instructed its lawyers to pursue and challenge all orders in the courts “from where they emanate and if necessary, at the appellate level, while affirming our 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”.

Obaseki equally hinted that they may be forced to implement a fresh lockdown if residents fail to follow the directives for vaccination and compliance with the Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPIs) in order to curtail the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 which is currently raging in the state.

The governor disclosed that the state would soon commence enforcement for the compulsory use of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), including wearing of face masks, regular hand washing, use of sanitisers and maintaining social distancing, to curb the current spike in infections and COVID-19-related deaths.

“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.

Read also: Court restrains Obaseki from imposing Covid vaccination in Edo

“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,” Obaseki said.

He continued: “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.”

Recall that, in a suit with reference number FHC/PH/FHR/266/2021, filed by one Charles Osaretin against the governor and five others, a federal high court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Tuesday, granted an order halting Obaseki’s move to stop unvaccinated residents from accessing worship centres and public spaces.

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