Coronavirus: Lagos residents violate lockdown to exercise

NIGERIA: Nigerian police force
Nigerian police force used to illustrate the story

Amidst the lockdown and social distancing directive by the federal government as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria, some residents of Lagos have taken to the streets, gathering in large numbers, for exercise.

The first street exercise was recorded on Monday at Gbagada area of the state with participation from a large number of residents.

Subsequently, it was reported that the street exercise and mobile fitness gym moved to Ikorodu area of state with scores of participants, on Tuesday.

Lockdown

President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 30, imposed a 14-day lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, to restrict movement of people within and outside the states with the aim of slowing down the spread of COVID-19.

The Lagos State Government had also released safety guidelines such as social distancing and prohibition of any social or religious gathering of more than 20 persons.

The state government on March 27, passed the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation (2020), to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Since the ban on social or religious gathering of more than 20 persons, different violations have been recorded in the state, including churches and mosques holding services amidst the directive.

PREMIUM TIMES also reported how wedding ceremonies and several events of more than 50 persons were also held within the period. Clubs and strip houses were also opened during the period.

The joint exercise held at Gbagada and Ikorodu areas of the state had residents and fitness enthusiasts as participants numbered over 50, PREMIUM TIMES confirmed.

Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020

Section 8 of the newly passed regulation “restricts or prohibits the gathering of persons in the local area such as conferences, meetings, festivals, private events, religious services, public visits and such other events, save where the written approval of the Governor is obtained for such gathering. ”

The law also spells out that violation of the provisions of the regulation will attract fine or imprisonment or both in accordance to the extant Quarantine Act 2004.

Despite the prohibition of gatherings of persons in the state, several residents have found means to form large gatherings including at newspaper joints, gathering to have morning discussions and the latest being the large gathering of people for street exercise.

Enforcement of the law

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The Lagos State police command and other sister agencies are at the front line of the enforcement of the lockdown order and the prohibition of social or religious gatherings.

Bala Elkana, the Lagos State police spokesperson, told PREMIUM TIMES that the enforcement teams are aware of the violations of the law and would swing into action.

Mr Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the police and other agencies in the state have the power to disrupt any gathering of a large number of persons and arrest the violators.

“Our enforcement teams are notified of those areas and we are extending our enforcement to them. Street exercise is unacceptable, it is a violation of the stay at home order of the government,” he said.

Mr Elkana said individuals caught during enforcement will be arrested and charged to Court for violation of the law.

Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State governor said the act is a clear violation of the order of the federal government and not only the state order.

“The directive is scientific and for the benefit of all. It is sad to see how people disobey simple order, if the virus spreads into communities, it will be at the detriment of all,” he said.

Mr Akosile also tweeted on Wednesday that officers of the Nigerian Army have swung into action at Gbagada area of the state to identify those violating the law.

“StayAtHome but you MUST go out in the name of exercises. So the Nigerian security agencies including the Army, have swung into action to make it easier for them to burn the calories this morning on Gbagada Expressway. This looks like frog jump,” he tweeted.



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