By Victor Ogunje
An Ado Ekiti Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday convicted a resident of Ekiti State, Vincent Ikechukwu, for not wearing a face mask which is now compulsory in the state.
Ikechukwu was arrested by law enforcement officers while on a bike at Fajuyi area of the city and immediately dragged before the court.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr. B.A. Oluwasanmi, who found Ikechukwu guilty, imposed a sentence of N40,000 and three-day community service on him.
The convict received the punishment for contravening Ekiti State Coronavirus (Prevention of Infection) Regulations recently promulgated into law to prevent the spread of the pandemic in the state.
The charge sheet reads: “That you, Vincent Ikechukwu, at about 11am on the 8th day of May, 2020 at Fajuyi, Ado Ekiti Magisterial District, did without lawful excuse, move without wearing a cloth face mask, thereby violating the provisions of Regulations 4(2)(a) of Regulation 4 punishable under Regulation 12 of the Ekiti State Coronavirus (Prevention of Infection) Regulations 1-4, 2020 made pursuant to Section 8 of the Quarantine Act, Cap Q2, LFN, 2004.
Oluwasanmi in his judgment held that the Coronavirus constituted a threat to human existence hence it was a gross crime to go against any law aimed at preventing its spread.
While imposing a fine of N40,000 and three-day community service on the convict, Oluwasanmi said the sentence would serve as a deterrent to others and lesson that there was penalty for breaking the law.
Speaking after being convicted, Ikechukwu said the penalty was too much for him to bear even though he admitted that he was guilty for not using a face mask.
He accused the prosecution of intentionally inflicting pain on him.
But the prosecution counsel, Mr. Femi Onipede, said the convict could not claim ignorance of the law compelling the use of face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Onipede said the use of face mask had been widely propagated on all media outlets saying the court cannot be blamed as the onus of punitive measures was at its discretion.