Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
A civil rights group, Joint Forces For the Defence of Democracy in Edo State (JOFDES), has berated the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, for violating the COVID-19 guidelines of social distance, wearing of face masks, no gathering of more than 20 persons in a place in his recent defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Benin City.
Recall that hundreds of party faithful gathered at the PDP’s Secretariat to receive Obaseki into his new found political party in the state.
The group, through its leadership, Felix Osemwengie, expressed its displeasure in Benin at the weekend.
“The essence of this emergency press conference today is to draw the attention of the Word Health Organization (WHO), Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Inspector General of Police, (IGP) and all well meaning Nigerians and Edolites to the wilful, deliberate and flagrant violation of all guidelines and gazette on the prevention of COVID-19, especially on political gatherings in Edo State by the executive governor of the state and his supporters.
“This suspected attempt to infect the unsuspecting good people of Edo State with the dreaded COVID-19 virus by Mr. Goodwin Obaseki and his supporters was carefully planned and executed yesterday at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP Secretariat during the defection of the governor to the party”, he said.
Osemwengie said they are not against the defection of the governor to the party of his choice as it is his fundamental right but greatly vexed and disappointed that such activity was carried out by the people in government who have always claimed to have put the interest of the Edo people as their priority.
He said the governor had earlier said he has approved the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for such an event just as to maintain social distance but wondered why he didn’t use the stadium and allowed the event to have taken place at the party’s secretariat where people more than the required numbers gathered to welcome him into the party.
“You would recall that in the exercise of the governor’s power under the Edo State Dangerous Infectious Disease Law (Emergency Prevention) Regulation Act made in pursuant to Quarantine Act, Public Health Law and other legislation, placed a ban on all forms of political gatherings of more than 20 persons in Edo State and approved only the use of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium for any of such purposes but we are shocked that the governor who made the order was the first person in the state to mindlessly violated it by mobilizing and gathering thousands of his political supporters at the over congested PDP secretariat along First East Circular Road, Benin City without any regards to the social distancing rule and the compulsory use of face masks at public places”, he said.
In view of what happened during the defection of the governor, the leader of the group tasked those in the affairs of the COVID-19 pandemic to quarantine all those who attended the event in order to halt community spreading of the virus.
“Consequent upon the above, we are calling on the Inspector General of Police, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the Minister of Health, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to immediately quarantine and prosecute all those who were in that gathering as was done in the case of Funke Akindele and Naira Marley.
“This would help to send a strong signal to those who are trampling on established rules and laws in Edo State”, he said.