Given the propensity of a good number of Nigerians to disobey lawful orders, there are fears that the recent easing of the COVID- 19-induced lockdown by the Federal Government and some states may trigger increases in the rate of spread and infection of the deadly virus. For the avoidance of any doubt, the relaxation of the movement restriction did not in any way invalidate the observance of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Nigeria Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) protocols on the disease.

Citizens are still under strict orders to maintain social distancing in public places, wear face masks in public and business places, wash hands with soap and running water, sneeze or cough into bent elbow when the need arises and to avoid unnecessary movements. The order prohibits interstate vehicular movements except on essential duty to deliver food, drugs and medicaments, and petroleum products.

Furthermore, social distancing is to be continued in churches and mosques on designated dates of worship, while no worship session must exceed two hours, according to NCDC guidelines. Until the siege is over, hotels are forbidden to host parties. Visitors to business houses cannot be allowed in unless they have their face masks in place.

These are all measures to prevent the spread of what has now been described as the vicious, invisible enemy of the people, and protect them against being infected. It is a war being waged on behalf of citizens against the global pandemic by government with the people expected to cooperate in the sustained onslaught to eradicate the disease.

Admittedly, a good number of citizens are adhering to the well enunciated protocols. Pedestrians and passengers in commercial vehicles wear different colours and styles of face masks. At deposit banks, customers wearing the coverings are made to sit outside the banking halls on well arranged seats, deferring to the social distancing guideline, under canopies each waiting for his turn to transact business.

Nevertheless, the media space is awash with reports of nationwide disobedience to the well spelt-out and publicized protocols. In markets, the observance of social distancing is more in the breach, although the buyers and sellers wear their face masks. It has been observed that this may be difficult to observe in a largely traditional and cultural environ¬ment such as ours.

Moreover, a couple of people still parade the streets without face masks, sauntering as in pre-COVID-19 days.

The most troubling breach yet is in the domain of interstate travels usually conducted at night, from endemic states to states with minimal spread. Unfortunately, security agents charged with the enforcement of the regulation have been accused of compromising their positions to ease the passage of the offending vehicles.

Of great note in the interstate illegal travels is the transportation of some persons from the virus-ravaged states of Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Zamfara, etc, in the North West to the southern parts of the country. Regardless of measures put in place to deter them, a large number are still found in several cities of the South East, South South and the South West, brought in by trucks used for transporting cattle and farm produce. To the credit of the enforcers, tens of such trucks had been turned back upon discovery but unfortunately a good number of them disingenuously find their way to the South.

The unfortunate import of the foregoing is the possibility of increased spread of the virus in communities that hitherto had manageable proportion of spread and infections of the disease. There can be no doubt that some of the persons arriving illegally from the North, particularly, to the South, came fully loaded with the COVID-19 virus; are already transmit¬ting it to others; and in a short while the new carriers would begin to manifest the symptoms. Besides, residents of the various communities who do not defer to observing the established protocols and guidelines may be helping to spread the deadly virus.

Against the backdrop of the looming dangers, we align with tough measures the state may further initiate to make the people comply with the existing protocols and guidelines as domesticated by the various authorities. Yes, those flouting the rule of wearing face mask in public, if arrested, should be sent to the ad hoc COVID-19 court for prosecution. Offenders should be decisively dealt with to serve as deterrence to others.

It is also our position that vehicles engaged in illegal interstate trans¬portation of persons be impounded for a period that would be deter¬mined by the enforcing authority. No doubt, some persons may feel their fundamental human rights had been breached in the enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols, but to such persons, we advise that they seek redress in court.
Nevertheless, we call on citizens to give full cooperation to government at the national and federating units in the war against the ravaging disease and help avert the dangers ahead.

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