Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has said he has instructed his team of lawyers to vigorously pursue and challenge a Port Harcourt High Court order directing the government to maintain the status quo on the purported vaccine mandate for its citizens.
The governor made the announcement in Benin at a press briefing with reporters while reacting to the court order and the unprecedented rise in the COVID-19 cases in the state.
“The Edo State Government has, therefore, instructed its lawyers to vigorously pursue and challenge all such orders in the courts from where they emanate and, if necessary, at the appellate level, while affirming its position as a law-abiding government,’ he said.
“It must be made clear that the government shall continue to pursue all legal and administrative options available for the protection of the best interest of the good people of Edo State.’
Governor Obaseki said the wellbeing of his citizens remains sacrosanct to him, stressing that his order of compulsory vaccination stands.
“We want to reiterate that our directives on vaccination stand and so people who are planning social, religious, political or business events after the second week of September should ensure that both themselves and their guests are not only vaccinated but possess vaccination cards as proof of vaccination, as anyone without this proof will not be granted access to crowded facilities.
“It must be stated that there is an obvious misconception that the directive issued by the government was to make vaccination compulsory for all citizens.
“Although the State Governor, in truth, has the power to make such an order under the Gazetted Quarantine Regulations, this directive is actually only a denial of access to public places of persons who chose not to be vaccinated.
‘We believe government’s overriding concern is the safety and health of its citizens.
“We are currently confronted with a situation wherein the Case Positivity Rate (CPR) for COVID-19 hovers between 15 and 25 per cent as deaths are consistently being recorded daily from COVID-19, with unvaccinated persons accounting for 100 per cent of deaths in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“Government, therefore, finds it strange that some persons in purported pursuit of their fundamental human rights would embark on litigation tourism outside of our state, seek to become a source of public health danger and put at risk the safety and health of the larger population.
“Government owes a sacred duty to the populace to take all actions necessary to protect the health of the majority of the citizens and in this connection, an even greater quantity of vaccines is being secured for the use of the people of Edo State,’ the governor said.
He added that he may be forced to impose another round of lockdown if citizens of the state fail to comply with the non-pharmaceutical rules so as to curtail the spread of the virus.
“We also want to stress that the government is commencing intensive enforcement of the use of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) to curb the current spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths. These measures include compulsory wearing of facemasks, regular washing of hands under running water and/or use of hand sanitisers, and maintenance of recommended social and physical distancing in public places, among others.
“Consequent to the rapid rise in infections and death from COVID-19, the government may be forced to implement a lockdown if there is a failure to follow the directives for vaccination and compliance with the Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPIs) in order to halt the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 which is currently raging within the state,’ he said.
The governor commended the churches, mosques, hotels, banks, event centres, restaurants and bars, among others, that have volunteered their premises for use as vaccination posts.