It’s barbaric to tell residents to wear masks or get flogged – Lawyer tells Ebonyi, C’River governors

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A recent order by the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi directing residents to wear face masks to prevent COVID-19 or get flogged has continued to generate reactions.

The governor directed local government officials to flog any resident who appears in public without wearing a mask on Thursday, even though the state had not recorded any case of infection.

“Let me warn again that no face mask in Ebonyi State, no public movement.

“If you don’t have a face mask and you are out, I am directing the local government chairmen to use their men to inflict the minimum compliance which is the cane – the cane.

“No face mask, you will attract cane, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you are a big man and you are coming outside and you do not have a face mask, you will face trouble and the law is very clear about that,” Umahi said.

Governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade also gave a similar order.

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But in a Thursday statement, former Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, described the governors’ orders as “unconstitutional” and “barbaric”.

He said, “It will be an absurdity taken to the highest pinnacle to permit the executive that executes laws made by the legislature to begin to enact laws and creates offences in the state as being canvassed by some persons who ought to know. It is a criminal breach of the separation of powers as enshrined in our constitution to suggest and approve that in our land.

“Much as we agree that the times we are in are not normal and require every hand on deck to stem the tide of the spread of the dangerous virus, we must not allow the birth and delivery of monarchs in Nigeria as governors who will never know when to stop even after we have successfully curtailed this virus.

“It is a fact that over 90 per cent of the state governors have failed their people woefully at this critical time to provide the necessary palliatives to cushion the biting effect of hardship occasioned by the lockdown that has become their lot due to the coronavirus pandemic. It becomes double and tragic jeopardy for the same governments that have failed in their responsibility towards their people to inflict more pain and hardship by prescribing verbal punishment for not wearing face masks that ordinarily should be provided free of charge to the citizens.

“To impose unwritten criminal liability on these hapless citizens is not only inhumane but sheer show of wickedness in high places.”

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