By Deji Elumoye
The Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodimma, has warned that failure to wear face mask in compliance with the protocols on COVID-19 would lead to the arrest and prosecution in the state.
Uzodimma, who spoke with reporters yesterday after a closed-door session with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said that the state government has introduced sanctions for those who refused to wear face masks.
He added that a Task Force on COVID-19 has been set up in the state while measures are being taken to reduce the spread of the disease and ensure the safety of all citizens.
“Few days ago, I issued an Executive Order to make not wearing face mask a crime in Imo State. So, any moment from now, we will begin to arrest people refusing to wear mask, I have given a 14-day ultimatum for all coming into Imo State to wear their face mask and comply with NCDC protocol or be arrested and tried. I have created six mobile courts to handle that. We don’t joke. It is better we offend people than to allow this disease to continue to spread in Imo State.
“I have in place a Task Force on COVID-19 chaired by Prof. Maurice Iwu, the former Chairman of INEC and they have done well. We have in place four isolation centres, fully equipped and the government partnering with the private sector has also equipped an additional isolation centre at the University Teaching Hospital, Orlu.
“But the number is growing daily and those testing positive are also on the increase so I think we need to prepare more grounds; build more isolation centres, get more medications, get oxygen and also try to have respiratory support equipment for those who have difficulty in breathing after they have been infected,” the governor said.
He expressed concern that some Nigerians are reluctant to comply with non-pharmaceutical protocols thus, the need to introduce sanctions.
His words: “The only effective cure we have seen now is when you are able to test and it is detected early and you take steps to change your hygiene system and comply with the protocols.
“It is not easy honestly because, knowing the attitude of our people, they are so stubborn, you continue to plead with them to see reason with you because you can only be stubborn if you are alive; we’ve seen how people are dying every day, in everywhere, even in Imo State because of this ugly monster called COVID-19.
“So, our people are invited through this medium to please respect and comply with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) protocols for this COVID-19 so that at least we will be alive. If life is supposed to be paid for, many of us will not be able to pay the price but God gave it to us freely so we should do our best in appreciation, to also understand the value of life and help government to also help our people.”