By: Ikenna Aniagboso
Governor Willie Obiano yesterday, May 29, 2020, signed the Anambra State COVID-19 and other Dangerous Diseases Prevention and Eradication bill into law at the Governor’s lodge, Amawbia.
The bill, which was passed recently by the State House of Assembly, was necessitated by the need to ratify and legitimize measures taken by the Anambra state government to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Accenting to the bill, Gov Obiano reiterated the need for ndi Anambra and everyone residing in the state, to comply with the hygiene protocols established earlier by relevant health organisations and the state government.
The Governor stated that the protocols and other healthcare advisories are now backed by law and would attract penalties if contravened.
On his part, the Speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Uche Okafor affirmed that the covid-19 law was germane to the effectiveness of the battle against covid-19 and other epidemics or pandemics as may arise in the future.
He noted that the law was necessary to strengthen, validate and legalise the state government’s policies on covid-19 and other related health matters.
According to him, “coronavirus took the world unawares including us in Anambra state. To combat it effectively, measures that were outlandish to our culture and laws were introduced. Hence the need for a law to incorporate such measures into our system and accommodate them.”
Continuing, the Hon Okafor observed that “certain rights of an individual like the right to movement and association as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, as amended, were restricted. Some aspects of our culture like contact salutation, traditional, social and religious festivities were equally stopped.”
“Although the advisories were already public, with commensurate compliance by ndi Anambra, there was need to legitimize them for effective enforcement”, the Speaker concluded.
The Anambra State covid-19 law has fifteen sections. It provides for the protection of medical professionals, healthcare providers and other frontline workers in an epidemic or pandemic.
It also contains stipulations for conduct of citizens and residents during a health crisis. Such stipulations include: lockdown of the state and shutdown of business, religious, social and traditional activities.
Others include closure of educational institutions, the civil service and other institutions in the state, wearing of facemasks in public places, social distancing, restriction on public gatherings, regulations on burials, etc.
Penalties for contravening the law include fines, community service or a jail term after a contravening party must have been tried, found guilty and sentenced by a competent court.