Covid-19: Lagos Civil Servants to work from home until 1st February

Babajide Sanwo-Olu
Babajide Sanwo-Olu

As part of the state’s response to the second wave of coronavirus, Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has directed civil servants on Level 14 and below to work from home till February 1, 2021.

This was contained in a statement signed at the weekend by the Head of Service in the state, Hakeem Muri-Okunola.

The statement however explained that the new directive excludes staff on essential duty and first responders.

“Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has approved a further extension of the work-from-home order to all State Public Servants on Grade Levels 14 and below from Monday, January 18 2021, to Monday, February 1 2021, to curtail the spread of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement said.

Also, Lagos prosecutors have asked presiding magistrates to ensure that anyone apprehended for breaching COVID-19 Regulations is made to undergo a mandatory test.

At least, no fewer than 566 persons have been arrested and 502 convicted for breaching COVID-19 Regulations in Lagos since the advent of the pandemic’s second wave.

The Nation learnt that 32 clubs and event centres have also been shut by the Lagos State Safety Commission, including the Event Hall of Eko Club, which was closed down last Tuesday.

These and more were the contents of a January 14 letter from the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, seen by The Nation yesterday.

In it, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), addressed the concerns of a lawyer and member of the Body of Benchers, Mr. Kunle Uthman, over the pandemic’s second wave in Lagos.

Uthman, in a January 13 letter to the AG, accused the Lagos State Government of inadvertently aiding the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that things were “business as usual” in the state.

He alleged that the state was failing to enforce safety protocols, and that government officials were complicit in flouting COVID-19 preventive protocols.

Uthman referenced a “funeral outing party… held with grandiose fanfare without social distancing and failure to enforce the wearing of face masks,” at a “prestigious” club hall in Surulere with capacity in excess of 2,500 persons.

“As it is, day-by-day, these large parties are being organised and attended by even highly placed LASG officials,” he added.

But in its response, the government described some of Uthman’s conclusions as “misconceptions and inaccuracies which need clarification.”

It argued that the lawyer’s claims that there isn’t any decipherable commitment by the state government,” is to blatantly overlook the numerous initiatives and steps taken by the state government to protect lives and property.”

Onigbanjo said: “The State Government never shied away from admitting that Lagos is indeed the epicenter of the virus in Nigeria. But is it “business-as-usual,” most certainly not.”

He noted that last March 27, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu signed into Law the first COVID-19 Regulations to be issued by any government nationwide, adding that thousands have been successfully treated and discharged from the state’s isolation centres and home based care till date.

Onigbanjo said: “When the 2nd wave started, Mr. Governor (even whilst just recovering from being infected with the virus) addressed a press conference on 18 December 2020 and shut down nightclubs, lounges, concerts and bars. The number of people who could attend social functions/restaurants was reduced and event centres were mandated to get clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission before going ahead with any event.

“A plan to construct three oxygen plants was launched and on the 8th of January 2021, the first installed oxygen plant was commissioned at Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba. This is capable of producing 60 large cylinders a day of high grade medical oxygen.”

He explained that apart from arrest of COVID-19 protocols violators, and in furtherance of prosecutors’ request for mandatory COVID-19 test for defendants in COVID-19 trials, anyone who tests positive is immediately taken to an isolation centre.

Onigbanjo added: “”COVID-19 tests are still conducted for free at State government test and sample centres. About 20 private labs are to carry out tests in order to provide alternatives to members of the public who want their tests done for a variety of reasons. It is only these private labs who charge a fee for tests.

“The State government is also currently discussing with vaccine manufacturers with a view to making vaccines available to Lagosians.

“As it relates to event centres, the extant regulations remain that all event planners must obtain prior clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission (lasgsafetyreg.com) for all events and ensure that any planned gatherings do not exceed the prescribed number, while nightclubs, bars and lounges remain closed.

Meanwhile, in line with preventive measures to curtail the spread of the second wave of the COVID-19, the Lagos State Government yesterday commenced the full decontamination/fumigation of offices in the State Secretariat Complexes and other governmental offices.

A statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services in the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Mrs. Belinda Odeneye stated that the exercise had become necessary to reduce the risk of the spread of the coronavirus in the state secretariat.

She emphasized that the state government will continue to adopt measures as part of the safety protocols to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not further spread in the state, saying that the fumigation exercise will be a continuous process until the pandemic is contained.

Mrs. Odeneye said the decontamination exercise which commenced on Friday, 15th of January 2021 with the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Lands Bureau, and Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development is expected to end on Saturday the 30th of January 2021.

The statement added that the exercise commences at 2pm during the weekdays while it would start at 8am on weekends, urging workers to vacate their offices and complex on stipulated days in order to avoid inhaling the chemicals used during fumigation exercise.

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