Hundreds of members of civil society groups in Edo State have staged a massive protest in Benin City, the State capital, against Governor Godwin Obaseki’s move to begin compulsory COVID-19 vaccination from mid-September in the state.
The protesters declared that having anti-COVID-19 vaccination cards before accessing large gatherings would be counter-productive.
The peaceful protesters, who marched through the streets of Benin, were armed with placards, bearing various inscriptions.
They included: “Obaseki cannot force us to take COVID-19, vaccines” and “I have right to access church, mosque.”
under the aegis of Equity Initiatives, the protesters, while addressing reporters at the Press Centre of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Benin, asked Obaseki to face infrastructural decay and insecurity in the state.
Chris Iyama, the convener of the group, said:
We are here to express our displeasure over Edo State government’s move to force residents of the state to take COVID-19 vaccines. This is against our fundamental human rights.
You cannot force someone to eat what he or she does not want. Are we in a banana republic? We own the state, not the government.
Bishop Osadolor Anthony Ochei, the Interim Chairman, Edo Civil Society, while also speaking, stated that it was the right of the citizens to decide whether to be vaccinated or not.
If Edo State government has failed, we cannot fail Edo people. Government has the right to make policies, but this terrible policy is not law.
On his part, Governor Obaseki, while speaking on the ravaging third wave of COVID-19 on August 23, at the Government House, during the inauguration of the second phase of COVID-19 vaccination, said:
From the second week of September 2021, large gatherings will only be accessed by those who have at least taken one dose/jab of the vaccine.
From the second week of September 2021, people will not be allowed into worship centres (churches and mosques), event centres and receptions without showing proof of the vaccination cards.
From the middle of September 2021, you can no longer access the banking services, if you have not been vaccinated.
Obaseki added that the state government would push for vaccination to build immunity against the scourge, while indicating that the target was to vaccinate 60 per cent of the state’s population by next year.
However, the state has recorded three more COVID-19-related deaths and 92 new confirmed cases, bringing the total number of fatalities recorded to 11.
The state’s COVID-19 Incident Manager, Dr. Andrew Obi, stated this after the daily virtual meeting of the state COVID-19 Taskforce, chaired by Obaseki.
Obi noted that the deaths recorded during the third wave of the virus were of unvaccinated persons, reiterating the need for residents to get inoculated with the vaccines to remain alive and healthy.
Edo State, in the last 72 hours, recorded three more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total number of deaths recorded in the third wave of the pandemic to eleven.
We also confirmed 92 new cases from the 522 samples collected within the 72-hour timeframe, with 56 recoveries and 254 active cases that are being managed at various treatment and isolation centres within the state.