By Victor Ogunje
No fewer than 100 motorists were Monday arrested by operatives of the Ekiti State Traffic Management Agency (EKSTMA) as the state began the enforcement of the mandatory use of masks, as part of the precautionary guidelines to combat the spread of Covid-19.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Wale Fapohunda, had on Friday announced that commuters and commercial motorcyclists also known as Okada riders and other citizens, who refuse to put on mask or carry any violator from Monday, July 20, will be arrested and prosecuted.
Starting the enforcement for motorists on Monday, the General Manager, EKSTMA, Chief Femi Olanrewaju, who led the traffic agency’s operatives during the operation, said over 100 offenders were arrested in the first day of the enforcement.
Olanrewaju revealed that though, the offenders were supposed to be prosecuted in line with the laid down rules, but were pardoned owing to the respect Governor Kayode Fayemi has for the people of the state.
“The enforcement exercise started today and about 100 motorists who violated the rules were arrested in some areas in Ado Ekiti metropolis.
“This action is not targeted at making money for the state through fines that will be imposed after trials at the special offences court, but we are trying to checkmate a lot of people against living reckless lives and to secure their health.
“What we did on Monday was a warning operation and that was why we pardoned the violators. It was like a warning or amnesty which we granted to them after delaying the offenders for about six hours.
“But from Tuesday, every offender arrested will be tried properly at the Special Offences court and proper punitive actions will be meted out to ‘flouters’, because the government is not ready to compromise the wellbeing of the people regarding Covid-19.
“We have told commercial drivers and cyclists to always put on their masks and other road users. They should also refrain from carrying those without masks because such also constitutes an offence under Covid-19 guidelines law,” he said.
Olanrewaju said the operatives had also visited some major markets like Oja Oba, Bisi, Mojere, Irona and other neighbourhood markets in Ado Ekiti on the need to comply, adding that traders defying the order will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.