Youths across Edo State led by Equity International Initiatives, a non-governmental organization, today morning defied the rains in Benin City, Edo State capital to protest against the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki’s recent pronouncement that from September, 2021, his administration may begin restricting people without Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate from entering public places like Banks, Worship Centres, Parties and others.
The protesters who converged at Ring Road, King’s Square went through major streets in Benin metropolis to register their displeasure over the pronouncement by Governor Obaseki. They that taking the vaccine cannot be made compulsory by the state government.
Addressing the premises at the Edo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the chairman of the council, Sir Roland Osakue who was represented by the Secretary, Comrade Titus Akhigbe called on the government to listen to the voice of the people and urged the protesters to go about the action peacefully.
In government house where they were received by the Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki, Hon. Osaigbovo Iyoha, Country Director of EII, Chris Iyama said, “The governor of Edo state made a statement saying starting from September that Edo citizens will not be allowed to access public space if they do not show their vaccine certificate.”
He specifically said Christians will not be able to access their churches if they do not show evidence of being vaccinated, he equally said you can no longer go to the banks if you are not vaccinated, you can no longer go to the market; he equally said you cannot access public schools.
“The issue of vaccine is a choice, you do not force anybody to take a vaccine, it is a choice, we are not saying that people should not take covid-19 vaccine but I have choices, I have a right to say no; there are people whose faith does not permit them, there are some persons whose faith does not permit them to take blood transfusion, are you going to force them? People can take vaccine on their own but you should not compel them, you should not force them. The governor must rescind that decision within seven days. If he has taken the vaccine, so be it, he should not force people to take it.
“We have overzealous security agents that would capitalize on that directive from the governor to enforce compliance and thereby abuse peoples’ rights, we do not want that.”
Also adding his voice is Bishop Osadolor Ochei a cleric and Acting Chairman of Edo State Civil Society Coalition. He said government should focus on securing the lives and properties of the people.
“The issue of vaccination should be left to individuals to decide. The Minster of Health Dr. Osagie Ehanire has said that he signed an indemnification certificate on behalf of Nigerians to exempt the producers of the vaccine that if anything happens to us as a people, the manufacturer of the vaccine will not be held accountable.”
While receiving the position paper of the protesters, the Chief of Staff to Governor Obaseki. Hon. Iyoha commended them for the peaceful process and promised to convey their demands to the governor.