The Edo State Government has cleared the air over what it described as the “purported compulsory vaccination” of its residents with the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a statement signed on Wednesday, Governor Godwin Obaseki said it was an “obvious misconception” that the directive issued by the government was to make vaccination compulsory for all citizens.
Governor Obaseki had given residents up to the second week of September to get a vaccine or risk being barred from public places such as banks, receptions, churches and mosques.
But in Wednesday’s statement, the governor said the order which was given last Friday was, at best, speculative and pre-emptive as the scheduled date for the commencement of the enforcement of the directive by the state government is the second week of September.
He said this in reaction to an order by a High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, directing the Government to maintain the status quo on the purported compulsory vaccination.
Governor Obaseki said: “Although the State Governor, in truth, has the power to make such an order under the Gazetted Quarantine Regulations, this directive is actually only a denial of access to public places of persons who chose not to be vaccinated.
“We believe government’s overriding concern is the safety and health of its citizens”.
The government’s intervention comes as Nigeria experiences a fresh spike in infections, and Edo becomes one of the top affected states.
The governor said Edo State is currently confronted with a situation wherein the Case Positivity Rate (CPR) for COVID-19 hovers between 15 and 25 per cent.
According to him, unvaccinated persons have accounted for 100 per cent of deaths in the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
“Government, therefore, finds it strange that some persons in purported pursuit of their fundamental human rights would embark on litigation tourism outside of our state, seek to become a source of public health danger and put at risk the safety and health of the larger population,” the statement read in part.
“Government owes a sacred duty to the populace to take all actions necessary to protect the health of the majority of the citizens and in this connection, an even greater quantity of vaccines is being secured for the use of the people of Edo State.
“The Edo State Government has, therefore, instructed its lawyers to vigorously pursue and challenge all such orders in the courts from where they emanate and if necessary, at the appellate level, while affirming its position as a law-abiding government.
“It must be made clear that Government shall continue to pursue all legal and administrative options available for the protection of the best interest of the good people of Edo State”.