A group of lawyers, under the auspices of Human Rights and Empowerment Project (HREP), have called on other states in Nigeria to emulate the Lagos State government which recently cancelled the monthly environmental sanitation exercise in the state.
At a briefing in Lagos, HREP’s Executive Director, Francis Chigozie Moneke, said restriction of movement between 7.00 am and 10.00 am every last Saturday of the month is an infringement on the citizens’ freedom of movement, as enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution.
He said that states that still enforce the exercise were promoting an illegal and unconstitutional action.
He stressed that since there was no law documented anywhere against movement of persons, no one should be punished for violating a mere directive given by the government to stay at home within these hours.
His colleague, Ikenna Okoli, who led a legal battle against the Lagos government, after which it cancelled the exercise, called on Nigerians to ignore the directive from government to stay indoors on environmental sanitation hours, describing such government orders as backward and counterproductive.
According to him, it is unfortunate that Nigerians are molested, arrested and fined on a daily basis for simply committing no offense.
Moneke, who commended Lagos for canceling the monthly sanitation exercise, urged the state to also terminate the practice of closing shops and markets on Thursday between same hours for sanitation exercise.
“Sanitation is a daily routine that should not be relegated to only one day in a week or month. Government must make it a priority by enacting adequate laws to ensure that the roads, markets, street, markets, other public and private premises are kept clean.
“Government must, therefore, promote an orientation and put in place effective framework that are conducive to a healthy environment, and ensure that waste are gathered and disposed regularly. There should be a task force that would impose appropriate fines where such environments are not well kept.
“We hope that this development in Lagos will resonate in every part of the country. Where any state government fails or neglects to tow this line, citizens are called upon to ignore any restriction of movement and go about their normal activities so long as they endeavour to keep their surroundings clean,” Moneke said.
He said the HREP office was opened to citizens who might be apprehended in any part of the country on account of moving around during sanitation. He also urged them not to he