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Protest in Edo as government intensifies COVID-19 vaccination

By Michael Egbejule, Benin City
28 September 2021   |   3:14 am
Civil society organisations (CSOs) and students, yesterday, protested against Governor Godwin Obaseki-administration’s compulsory COVID-19 vaccination policy in Benin City, the state capital.

[FILES] A security official examine workers Covid-19 vaccination passes at the gate to state secretariat in Benin City capital of Edo State, southern Nigeria, on September 16, 2021. – Edo State in southern Nigeria has introduced compulsory Covid-19 passes for access to public places and gatherings in a bid to increase vaccination rates in Africa’s most populous nation. The measure which was resisted by protesters chanting anti-vaccination slogans at present is limited to workers in public service. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

Civil society organisations (CSOs) and students, yesterday, protested against Governor Godwin Obaseki-administration’s compulsory COVID-19 vaccination policy in Benin City, the state capital.

The protesters, who grounded vehicular movement around the ancient city, carried placards bearing inscriptions as We Need Security In Edo, Not Vaccine; We Will Resist Any Executive Rascality; Hunger Is Killing Us, Not COVID-19; Obaseki Obey Court Order and Share COVID-19 Palliatives, among others.

They also threatened to shut down government houses, agencies, corporate organisations enforcing the ‘no vaccine, no entry’ policy, stressing that yesterday’s protest was just a warning.

Speaking at the secretariat of the Edo State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Coordinator of the Freedom Ambassador Organisation, Curtis Ogbebor, said they were out to express their displeasure over the compulsory vaccination in the state.

He noted that other pressing issues such as security should be the governor’s priority and not compulsory COVID-19 vaccination.

“We have to send a warning and advice for the governor to urgently withdraw the enforcement order. If he refuses to withdraw it within 48 hours, we will mobilise to shut down the state economy.

Also speaking, National Public Relations Officer, Nigeria Student and Youth Association, Osamudiamen Ogbidi, said students rejected forcible COVID-19 vaccination.

In spite of the protests, the state government has announced a gradual reduction in the number of COVID-19 infections following the ongoing vaccination of residents in the 18 councils of the state.

This followed the government’s insistence that more citizens should get vaccinated to reduce the mortality rate and prevent a new wave of the pandemic.

Incident Manager of the state COVID-19 Task Force, Dr. Andrew Obi, said this after its daily virtual meeting presided by Governor Godwin Obaseki.

Obi said the state recorded 43 new cases in the last 72 hours, which represents 7.1 per cent of the 606 samples collected and tested within the timeframe.

Noting that Edo was recording success in the management of the third wave of the pandemic, Obi attributed the success in tackling the scourge to Obaseki’s strategy in ensuring the vaccination of Edo citizens against pandemics.