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CLO canvasses severe measures to contain spread of coronavirus

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The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) yesterday canvassed stricter measures to contain the increasing spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the South East region. It also cautioned against deployment of soldiers to enforce wearing of face masks in Enugu State, as being contemplated by the state government, saying such assignment fell outside military jurisdiction.

Zonal Chairman of CLO in the South East, Comrade Aloysius Attah, lamented that the rising cases of coronavirus in the zone was becoming worrisome, stressing that the development required collective action from governors of the zone to contain the spread.

As at yesterday, COVID-19 cases in the South East had risen to 1,510 with 30 deaths and 797 recoveries, representing five per cent of the 26,484 cases in the country.

The rights group, however, agreed that the lackadaisical attitude of residents and people of the zone was responsible for the rapid spread of the pandemic. Attah noted that the organisation was not comfortable with Enugu State Government’s plans to engage soldiers in enforcing safety protocols like wearing of face masks, as announced by the Chairman, Expert Medical Advisory Committee (EMAC) for COVID-19, Professor Emmanuel Ejim.

“Instead of planning to engage soldiers in enforcing the directives and guidelines, the state should take the battle to the grassroots through the council chairmen, who would engage the community foot soldiers after periodic orientations.

“The situation requires establishment of more testing centres across the state, while more energy should be channeled into monitoring and evaluation. “No amount of sensitisation is too much in spreading the message of sticking to World Health Orgnanisation (WHO) guidelines and maintaining personal commitment to healthier lifestyles and habits,” he stated.

Attah pointed out that the group was also concerned about extrajudicial killings and other human right violations in parts of the country and the South East by security agents during the COVID-19 lockdown, adding that no government apparatus should embark on actions that could further aggravate an already bad situation.

“Since the return of democracy in 1999, there have been several instances where the military has been drawn into actions outside their constitutional purview and the consequences have been fatal. “Deploying military men to enforce safety measures of the COVID-19 pandemic should neither be contemplated, nor implemented,” it added.

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