FG set to sanction Nigerians refusing COVID-19 vaccination

Amid reactions to the declaration by Edo and Ondo states regarding restricted access to public places for unvaccinated residents, the Federal Government may sanction eligible Nigerians who refuse COVID-19 vaccination.

The hint was dropped yesterday by the Executive Director of the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Faisal Shuaib, at a briefing in Abuja.

Shuaib said the government may “apply the basic rule of law” against such people because they will be endangering the lives of other people.

He said: “The Presidential Steering Committee and the Federal Ministry of Health is exploring ways of making vaccines more available to all Nigerians including federal civil servants and corporate entities. Once these vaccines are made equitably available to all Nigerians, we would need to have a frank discussion about justice, fairness and liberty that exist around vaccine hesitancy.

“If some individuals refuse to take the vaccine, hence endangering those who have or those who could not due to medical exemptions, then we have to apply the basic rule of law, which stipulates that your human right stops where mine begins. So, you have a right to refuse vaccines, but you do not have the right to endanger the health of others.”

This is coming as a federal high court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday, granted an order restraining Edo Governor, Godwin Obaseki and the state government from restricting unvaccinated persons from attending mass gatherings as from mid September.

Governor Obaseki had last week mandated people of the state to take the vaccine, warning that, as from September 15, anyone who has not been vaccinated will not be allowed into public places such as banks and worship centers. ”

From the second week of September, people may not be allowed to worship in churches and mosques without showing proof of their vaccination cards at the gates. Similarly, people will not be allowed to event centers, receptions or parties without showing proof of their vaccination cards,” the government had warned.

However, one Charles Osaretin filed a suit marked FHC/PH/FHR/266/2021 to counter the governor and five others. The applicant, through his counsel, Echezona Etiaba (SAN), asked the court to order parties to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice, for the enforcement of the applicant’s fundamental human rights, and for the leave of court to serve the respondents by publishing the court’s processes in a national daily newspaper.

The judge, Stephen Dalyop Pam, granted the orders and adjourned the suit till September 10 for a hearing of the substantive motion. Earlier on Monday, civil servants in Edo Ministry of Health were given a seven-day ultimatum to get vaccinated against COVID-19 pandemic. The ultimatum was contained in a memo dated August 30, with reference number: HA.429/1/16 and issued by Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Frederick Irabor.

 

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