COVID-19: Lawyers urge Nigerians to obey stay-at-home order

Some lawyers, on Friday, advised Nigerians to obey the stay-at-home order given by government in order to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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The lawyers gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Lagos.
They said that flouting the stay-at-home and social distancing orders, especially by Lagos residents, would do more harm than good.
Although Mr Basil Owolabi, a legal practitioner, agreed that the stay-at-home order had come with its attendant hunger and hardship, especially in the face of inadequate provision of palliative measures, he, however, said it was necessary, given the present circumstance.
“While we call on government to continue to do more in providing palliatives to alleviate the sufferings of the needy and the vulnerable at this critical time, people must know that they have to endure some hardship in the collective fight against COVID-19.
“Our people must understand that it is better to endure and sacrifice for a short period to contain the spread of the deadly virus than be reckless and allow the virus to continue to spread and eventually overwhelm us,” he said.
Owolabi, in apparent reference to the trial of 202 joggers, cyclists and others by a Lagos mobile court on April for flouting the lockdown order, said that the trend must not be allowed to continue.
”If this trend continues unabated, it won’t take long before the isolation centers get congested by those who would have ordinarily had no business going there in the first place, if they had simply obeyed and stayed in their homes.
“I also believe that government should let people realise the disaster that we may likely face if we experience a surge in the cases of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“I think government has a duty to continue to consistently feed people with correct information. At this period, credible and timely information is key,” Owolabi said.
Another legal practitioner, Mr Ayobayo Babade, said that more palliative measures should be put in place by government in a more accountable way.
“Hunger has been a serious issue in Nigeria prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people had been living from hand to mouth.
“A stay-at-home order, in the presence of the present economic reality, can only be effective if palliatives are provided for people, because many of them are not financially buoyant and do not have enough savings to last the lockdown period,” Babade said.
Mr Gbenga Awe, another lawyer, advised government to improve on its public enlightenment programmes, as most residents were not aware of the dangers in defying the stay-at-home order.
Awe also urged government to do more in the area of provision of welfare package for the citizens.
Another lawyer, Mr Eze Eseagwu, suggested that neighbourhood markets and supermarkets should be allowed to open for the benefit of the people.
He advised that everyone should be made to wear face masks and that business ventures must create spaces for washing of hands for both staff and customers. (NAN)

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