A Magistrates’ Court sitting in the Yaba area of Lagos State has sentenced 51 persons for violating the lockdown and the social distancing directives of the Lagos State Government.
The offenders were sentenced to a one-month community service.
Chief Magistrate Peter Ojo convicted the defendants following their plea of guilt to a charge of the unlawful gathering.
They were convicted in two separate arraignments and trial by the State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba.
In the first trial, 34 out of 37 persons were arraigned following their arrest by the police for exercising and ‘working out’ in a group larger than 20 persons on the Gbagada-Oworonsoki Expressway.
The second trial had 17 out of 18 persons arrested in Ajegunle area of the state pleading guilty to the charge of the unlawful gathering.
The Police counsel, Mr. A. Adegoke, a Deputy Superintendent (DSP), told the court that the Gbagada group committed the offence “along Bush Street/Gbagada Express Road/Ogudu Area.”
The court also heard that some members of the Ajegunle group fled upon seeing the police who succeeded in arresting only 18 persons.
They were all charged “with violating directives of Mr Governor of Lagos made pursuant to Regulation 8(1)(a) and (b) and 17(1) of the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020 and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 58 of the Public Health Law, 2015.”
Following their guilty plea, Magistrate Ojo ordered that the Gbagada violators be first quarantined for 14 days at the Infectious Diseases Hospital, Yaba, or any other medical facility designated by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health.
He ordered that they should be tested twice for COVID-19 and if their result is negative, they may then serve their community service for one month at the Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa.
“They must ensure that the premises is kept clean. Where their test result is positive, they shall be remanded for treatment until they are found negative. Then they will proceed to community service,” Mr Ojo added.
Three members of the groups Adetutu Aderogbangba, Segun Joshua and Obi Okoye, pleaded not guilty.
The Chief Magistrate said they should be quarantined for 14 days and adjourned till April 21 for their re-arraignment and trial.
The court ordered that aside the 14-day quarantine and testing for the Coronavirus, the Ajegunle violators should be assigned to clean the Lagos State High Court for one month, between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., as their community service.
The court gave the sentence after dismissing- for lacking in merit an application by the Gbagada violators’ counsel, Olufunlola Salaam, that the defendants be discharged and acquitted because, the court had “no jurisdiction,” the charge “was faulty” and the law on which the charge was based did not exist.