COVID-19 protocols: A reporter’s Friday night experience
On the 27th of January, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Coronavirus Health Guidelines Order with far-reaching provisions and restrictions that equally carried punishments for contraventions.
The President, also directed the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, and other relevant local government, state and Federal governments’ agencies to enforce the regulations.
The President also warned that any officer that failed, neglected, or refuses to enforce the provisions of the regulations would be subjected to disciplinary actions.
“Any person who, without reasonable cause, contravenes a direction given under Parts 1 and 2 of these regulations commits an offence. Any person who, without reasonable cause, obstructs an authorised official from enforcement of these regulations commits an offence,” the President said in the regulations.
The regulations signed by President Buhari limited public gatherings in an enclosed place to not more than 50 persons, while also making a case for physical distancing and use of face masks at all functions requiring large gatherings.
Prior to this presidential order or regulations, the Lagos State Government had rolled out its own set of regulations, which included a ban on the opening of bars and nightclubs in the state.
At the beginning of the regulations, the Lagos State Police Command was all out, raiding bars and nightclubs in the state, in an effort to enforce the regulations put in place by the state government.
One of the prominent clubs raided by the police was the upscale nightclub, Cubana, where about 172 staff and clubbers were arrested during a night raid. They were recently fined over six million Naira.
Also, a Director of the Cubana Group, Pretty Mike, was arrested by the Bar Beach Police Division on Thursday morning, March 4, following the arrest of the staff and clubbers at his Victoria Island based club.
It would be recalled that the police had on Monday, March 1, vowed to arrest the club owners or anyone who came forward to push the reopening of the nightclub as the club had consistently violated the COVID-19 protocols.
Despite the seeming enforcement of the regulations and the seriousness attached to it by the police in Lagos, the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, a discrete investigation by DAILY POST showed that whatever is being done to enforce compliance may just be mere cosmetic and not being wholeheartedly done.
In a bid to unravel the lacklustre enforcement of the regulations as promulgated by both the federal and state government, DAILY POST reporter set out on an all night rendezvous that undoubtedly revealed the hypocrisy in the enforcement of the regulations.
Setting out from the Ojodu Berger area of Lagos State, this reporter took a cross city like journey to Ago Palace Road in Okota, under Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State where a birthday party was hosted.
At the party held at an upscale lounge, it was observed that there was no physical distancing neither was the use of nose mask nor covering enforced. Guests mingled without any form of inhibitions as they all had maximum fun all the way.
From Okota, this reporter took another long trip to Akowonjo Road, and stopped momentarily at a Night Club, one of the best in Alimosho Local Government Area of the State.
At the club, it was business as usual, as guys and ladies, including women of easy virtue, jostled for space in the overcrowded clubhouse, with music blaring at top gear and no security agent in sight to enforce the COVID-19 regulations.
One of the patrons who simply identified himself as Mike, said the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations is a mere fluke. According to him, the police will only raid clubs that refuse to settle them.
When DAILY POST reporter expressed fear of being arrested by security agents, Mike reassured him that nothing of that sort will happen.
“We are here almost every night! There is nothing to fear. The police will only raid clubs that do not settle. This country and its laws are about who you know. The biggest lounge in Alimosho has been operating all the while because the owner is a highly connected police officer. You don’t expect the police to go to such a place for a raid. They have a club that’s remains functional. So is this place also. And don’t forget that the parent company of this club is a top Hotel, where many of the police bosses in the area patronise for free”, Mike said.
From this club, DAILY POST reporter advanced to a newly established resort, that boasts of the best facilities in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The resorts, with an adjoining hotel close by, has no doubt become the haven of happening guys and ladies around the Egbeda area of Alimosho, the most urban area of the LG.
With an expansive lounge, which serves as the normal drinking area, this reporter ventured into the club and was astonished with his discovery.
The club, an enclosed area that normally should not host more than a 100 people, had, on this Friday night, more than 400, with patrons jostling for a leg space.
It was also discovered that, though signs were placed at the entrance of the facility for face masks and washing of hands, none of that was enforced.
This nighttime experience no doubt presents the many things that are wrong with Nigeria’s haphazard implementation of the COVID-19 regulations and a great attestation to the lack of will to once and for all stem the spread of the virus in the country.
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