Rivers assembly makes non-wearing of facemasks in public places a criminal offence

The Rivers State House of Assembly on Monday passed a bill that mandates compulsorily wearing of facemasks in public places.

The bill which was brought by the member representing Emohua Constituency, and chairman, House Committee on Health, Sam Ogeh is titled “Enforcement of Wearing of Face Masks”

Ogeh said the bill would give the Rivers State Ministry of Health and law enforcement agencies the legal right to arrest and punish offenders, adding that the bill would further help to check the spread of the virus hence.

Commenting on the bill, the Speaker, Ikwuinyi Owaji-Ibani, said “A new enemy (Coronavirus) introduced into the World has altered all that had been here; that is why as human beings, we must be able to acknowledge and recognize the difference before the advent of coronavirus pandemic.”

“When people take life for granted, life will also take them for granted.”

The Speaker also regretted that the citizens are not cooperating with the government in the efforts to protecting them from the deadly virus.

“As we know that the first fundamental duty of governments is to protect life and property; if the government has directed in the interest of all that we should wear face masks, wash our hands, these are the basic minimum that anyone can do to ensure basic hygiene, and we must do these to help government,” Owaji-Ibani said.

“Covid-19 pandemic is killing people, people are dying in their number, the number is huge, we as citizens should also play our own role to live for the future.

“Ministry of Health cannot enforce the execution of the Nigerian Police, other security agencies, so it is important that security agencies should also help in enforcing the wearing of face masks, especially in the public places.

“If you are at home, your very unlikely to be duty-bound to wear a face mask, but when you go to public places where you have others, the onus is on you to protect yourself and protect others, so the ministry of health has to liaise with security agencies to ensure every resident of the state complies with the law.”