– Crackdown on lockdown violators begins as police arraign 78 offenders, impound 600 vehicles in Lagos.
As some Lagos residents slowly attempt to return to their daily grind, about 78 violators have been arrested and were yesterday charged to court for violating the lockdown directive of the Federal Government. They were immediately sentenced to 30 days of community service with 14 days in the isolation centre.
Also, over 600 vehicles have been impounded by the Lagos State police command since the commencement of the lockdown in Lagos. The state police spokesman, Bala Elkana, who made the disclosure said that on Wednesday, April 8, police officers on enforcement of restriction of movement arrested 78 suspects for violating the stay-at-home directives of the government.
“The suspects were arrested for playing football on major streets and having group exercise in large numbers, thereby neglecting the principles of social distancing. The suspects were arraigned in Chief Magistrate Court Yaba on a one-count charge of violating the social distancing directives of Lagos State Government contrary to Regulation 8(1)( a) &(b) and 17(1) (i) of Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency prevention) Regulation 2020, an offence punishable under Section 58 Public Health Law Cap P16 Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
“73 of the suspects pleaded guilty to the charge while three pleaded not guilty. The court ordered that all the suspects should be kept in government isolation centres for 14 days and thereafter serve one-month community service. The three suspects who pleaded not guilty will after observing the 14 days isolation, be brought to court for trial.”
The suspects were arrested along Bush Street, Gbagada Expressway, Ogudu, Iyana Iba, Ojo Road, Ebute-Metta, Asimowu street, Itire and Ajegunle.
Chief Magistrate Peter Ojo convicted the defendants following their plea of guilty to the charge. The violators include the 34 out of 37 persons arrested by the police while exercising at Gbagada and 17 out of 18 persons arrested at Ajegunle.
Police counsel, Mr. A.A. Adegoke, a Deputy Superintendent (DSP), told the court that the Gbagada group committed the offence on Wednesday along with Bush Street/Gbagada Express Road/Ogudu Area. The court heard that the Ajegunle group committed their offence on April 1.
Aside the community service, Ojo ordered that the violators be first quarantined for 14 days at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Yaba, or any other medical facility designated by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health. He ordered that they should be tested twice for COVID-19 and if their result is negative, they may then serve their community service at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa.
Three of the group pleaded not guilty. They are: Adetutu Aderogbangba, Segun Joshua and Obi Okoye. The Chief Magistrate quarantined them for 14 days and adjourned till April 21 for their re-arraignment and trial.
Earlier, the court dismissed for lacking in merit an application by the Gbagada violators’ counsel, Olufunlola Salaam, that the defendants be discharged and acquitted because the court had “no jurisdiction,” the charge “was faulty” and the law on which the charge was based did not exist.
Meanwhile, operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) in Lagos yesterday impounded 13 vehicles in Alapere for not complying with the Federal Government’s directive on the stay-at-home order. The officers dispersed a group of over 150 youth doing physical exercise in Ketu–Alapere.
Led by its commander, DCP Olatunji Disu, the vehicles, which included three cars, seven buses and three SUVs were caught carrying passengers and were without valid excuses for being on the road. The commander, who was leading a team of police officers on intensification of enforcement of the COVID-19 directive to Lagos Island detoured at Ketu-Alapere where a long queue of vehicles were making their way towards Ojota Bridge inward Ibadan.
The Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu, had on Tuesday evening directed the Commander, RRS and Area Commanders in the state to supervise and intensify enforcement of the lockdown directive.
The commander had earlier dispersed over 150 youths who had converged in front of Samuel Gbadebo Adegboyega Village beside The Apostolic Church, Alapere. Some of the youths, who claimed to be residents of the village were in their large numbers doing morning physical exercises before the police got to the area.
After being addressed on the essence of the government’s stay at home order, some of the youth still refused to go home until the RRS Commander directed his officers to form a wall, walked the youth down the road before they eventually dispersed.
While vehicles with valid excuses and identifications were allowed passage, some of the buses that were arrested stated that they were heading to Ibadan with their passengers. All the vehicles have been handed over to Alapere Divisional Police Station.
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