The state government on 23rd day of August 2021 while flagging off the 2nd Phase of the Covid19 vaccination exercise disclosed that beginning from the 2nd week of September 2021, large gathering as well as high traffic public and private places will only be accessed by persons who have proof of taking at least one dose of Covid19 vaccination. A public interest group flagged off an online petition for one week and over 900 persons signed up the petition. Prominent among those who signed the petition are Chief Omo Osahie Utetenegiabi, Prof. Ngozi iloh, Justice Oni-Edigin, Eghosa Ogbebor, Uyi Ojo, Bishop osadolor ochei, Dickson John, Osaretin Giegbefumwen, Osagie Ogbede Ihama, Apostle Michael Okoh, Umoren Uduak, Prophet Isaac Umugor amongst others.
The public interest suit was filed on their behalf by Emmanuel Usoh, Esq at the High Court of Edo State on 1st day of September 2021 and the case is cited as Aigbokhan President & 950 Ors v. Edo State Government &Anor Suit No: B/190m/2021.
The case was commenced by an originating motion and ex parte application. The vacation judge – Hon. Justice Ohimai Ovbiagele refused the application argued by Ayodele Otuakhena, Eaq seeking for injunction restraining the State government from enforcing its directive pending the final resolution of the matter. The judge refused the application on ground that a similar order has been granted before the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt. The court’s attention was drawn to the fact that a court cannot refer to an order not before it and more so the application sought if granted does not contravene the order granted in Port Harcourt. An appeal has since been lodged on the refusal order. Upon resumption from vacation, the chief judge took over the case and fixed it for 30th day of September 2021 for mention.
Upon the mention of the case, the bailiff informed the court that the Governor of Edo State who is the 1st defendant declined to receive the processes in the matter and also the staff of the Solicitor General of Edo State office refused to sign for the process, leaving him with no choice but to return same. The Attorney General sued alongside the Governor was represented by the Solicitor General of the State.
The reliefs sought by the applicants are that a declaration that the refusal of public and civil servants in Edo State from entering into the office from 6th day of September 2021 save they are vaccinated against Covid19 is a violation of the their right dignity and also a declaration that the Governor directive on 23rd August 2021 to the effect that there will be restriction of mass gathering in banks, church, mosque as well as events centers and public offices save for persons with vaccination certificate from 2nd week of September 2021 is unlawful and a violation of their right to peaceful assembly and association. Lastly, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Governor and its servants, agents, privies and or such representatives from interfering with the liberty and rights of the Applicants as guaranteed by the Constitution
By the way, the Edo State Incident Management Report of August 2021 reveals that covid19 is not as deadly as talked about. Available data provided by Edo State Government shows that in August 2021, the number of samples collected is 1426, covid-19 cases recorded was 228 resulting in 15.9 % and resulting in death of 7 persons which is less than 1% death.
The case has been adjourned to 2nd day of November 2021 for hearing