No fewer than 60 persons were arrested in Ado Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital on the first day of the clampdown on violators of the use of face masks to contain COVID-19 spread.
A massive swoop was launched for the offenders in various parts of the city by security men who were stationed there to enforce the law.
The culprits were nabbed in Ajilosun, Ijigbo, Old Garage, Okesa, Fajuyi, Adebayo and Basiri.
All the offenders were shepherded to a mobile court where they were convicted for kicking against the Ekiti State Coronavirus Disease (Prevention of Infection) Regulations 2020.
A fine of N5,000 was imposed on the convicts for their refusal to wear face masks in public in line with the new law to contain the disease.
Offenders were also liable for community service upon conviction.
Speaking on the development, the Chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force, Prof. Bolaji Aluko, said the enforcement would henceforth be a regular exercise urging residents to comply to tame the spread of the virus.
He expressed concern why the violators who cannot get a face mask for as low as N100 would now be made to pay a fine of N5,000 upon conviction.
Aluko said: “We are not interested in charging people on anything, we just want people to understand that face masks must be worn.
“It just happens that sometimes there are people who will not obey the rules unless you fine them. It costs only N100 or N200 to buy a face mask and a little inconvenience to wear it properly.
“Now you have to be caught and charged N5,000, that does not make sense.”
Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Brig.-Gen. Ebenezer Ogundana (rtd), disclosed that security men have been properly briefed to enforce the law.
He urged car owners to always be with their face masks as stop-and-search may be conducted to enforce compliance.
Ogundana said: “If you are in your car alone and you are not wearing a face mask, you may not be arrested but we can ask you because you have to come down from your car and go somewhere.
“If you don’t have it, it constitutes an offence. You must have the face mask with you in your car, by your side or in your pocket because security people will ask of it.”
Officers of Ekiti State Traffic Management Agency (EKSTMA) led by the General Manager, Chief Femi Olanrewaju, also stationed themselves in strategic locations to enforce the use of face masks.
Olanrewaju said the use of face masks in the public is now compulsory noting that his men have been positioned at junctions, traffic light areas, markets and bus stops to arrest offenders.