A truck driver was on Monday convicted of violating the lockdown order in Akwa Ibom State.
Akwa Ibom, like most other states in Nigeria, has been on lockdown to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
There are nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Akwa Ibom as of April 19.
The convicted driver, identified as Demilade, was arrested earlier on Monday in Uyo by police officers enforcing the lockdown. He had told the police that he drove all the way from Ogun State to Akwa Ibom to deliver non-alcoholic beverages in the state.
The driver was arraigned before a chief magistrate, charged with contravening the provisions of the Quarantine and Restriction of Movement Regulations of the Akwa Ibom state government.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The chief magistrate, Winifred Andy, said the products Mr Demilade ferried from Ogun state to Akwa Ibom is not classified by the law as “essential”.
She found him guilty and ruled that he should pay a fine of N100,00 to the Akwa Ibom government.
Others who were charged to court for alleged violation of the lockdown order were, however, discharged and acquitted by the court.
The government said over 1,000 persons have been apprehended across the state for alleged violation of the stay-at-home order in the past six days.
The Commissioner for Justice, Akwa Ibom, Uwemedimo Nwoko, who disclosed this on Monday in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES said violators of the lockdown would be made to face the law.
Mr Nwoko said for pedestrians who are first time offender, the maximum sentence is a N10,000 fine or a community service for seven days, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The fine would increase to N20,000 and the community service, 14 days, if an offender is caught again violating the order.
For bicycles, motorcycles, tricycles, and mini-buses, they would have to pay a N20,000 fine or do community service for seven days, in addition to having their vehicle impounded, if it is the first instance. For buses and all types of car, the penalty is a N50,000 fine for a first time offender. And for trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles, the fine is N100,000.
“The major challenge we are facing is trying to balance the interest of enforcement and the social interest of our people,” Mr Nwoke said.
“We want as much as possible to reduce the pain this enforcement would bring on the people. We want to try as much as possible to balance it so that the people would know that this is in their interest.
“We are not happy to do this, but we must do this because of the interest of the people.”
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