By Salisu Sani-Idris
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) on Thursday in Abuja arrested and charged no fewer than 20 violators of the COVID-19 protocols within the city.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 20 lawbreakers, made up of 18 males and two females, were dragged before Chief Magistrate Raphael Egbe of the FCT Mobile Court, sitting at the Eagle Square.
The offenders were prosecuted on a one-count charge of violating COVID-19 protocol by not wearing face masks.
The offenders were arrested across the city, from the popular UTC Shopping Complex in Area 10 and Mug Plaza, Area II Shopping Complex, Garki International Market and other places.
They were, however, given an option of fines ranging from one thousand naira and five thousand naira, depending on their demeanour and conduct during and after the arrests.
The Chairman of the FCT COVID-19 Protocols Enforcement Taskforce, Mr Ikharo Attah, who led the operations, disclosed that about seven parks were closed down within two days of the commencement of the exercise.
Attah said that one of his men, an officer of the Nigeria Police Force, was badly wounded on the nose by hoodlums who were attempting to obstruct the taskforce operation and escape arrests.
He appealed to the public to always obey the protocols for their health and that of their families.
“The enforcement has been on for some days now. We conducted a night operation on Wednesday and we had a very tough time.
“One of our Police officer was attacked and badly injured on the nose and he is recuperating in the hospital now.
“We have so far prosecuted about 20 persons today. Four from the parks and 16 others for disobeying COVID-19 health protocols of face masks.
“We are begging people in the FCT to please comply. We are not happy doing this but to save ourselves, we have to do it.
“Everyone is home, but we are here doing this. We ought to be at home resting. If everyone put on face masks, we won’t have to be on the streets burning fuel, carry personnel and separated from our families to come and do this.
“It is very unpleasant for us, but we have to do it to save people.”
He also explained that the fine was not up to N20, 000 as was being peddled.
“Some of the offenders can be very violent, and this could anger the judge, who then imposes high fines on them, but the purpose is not to make people pay high fines.
“It is to make them comply so that we can flatten the curve and go back to normal life,” Attah said. (NAN)