The Federal Capital Territory Authority on Tuesday started the arrest and prosecution of motorists and pedestrians caught without face masks.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 had listed the compulsory use of face masks in public as one of the guidelines for the gradual easing of the lockdown initially imposed on the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The WE4WE REPORTS reported that mobile courts set up in the FCT to prosecute those who violated the lockdown that ended on Monday have continued works, prosecuting those without face masks.
The mobile courts are known as the FCT Directorate of Road Traffic Services Mobile Courts for COVID-19 Cases.
Our correspondent observed proceedings at one of the mobile courts located under the Dantata Bridge on the Airport Road for about an hour on Tuesday.
A magistrate, Aminu Eri, is in charge of the court located a few metres from the National Judicial Institute.
Mr Samuel Baba is prosecuting the violators on behalf of the government.
A combined team of policemen, officials of the Vehicle Inspection Office and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were seen stopping and arresting violators of the directive.
Those arrested included drivers and other occupants of vehicles as well as those trekking.
Once a motorist is arrested for not using the mask or that any occupant of the vehicle violated the order, the car key will be taken from the driver while such offender’s details like name, age and telephone number will be documented.
In case of pedestrians arrested for the offence, their telephone handsets will be taken from them at the point of documentation.
They will thereafter wait for their turn to appear before the magistrate.
An official who did not want his name in print told our correspondent many defaulters were discharged once they showed remorse.
He said the punishment for those found guilty ranged from community service to imposition of fines.
He pointed to a heap of brooms, hoes and shovels he said were meant for those asked by the magistrate to embark on community service.
As of the time our correspondent arrived at the scene, no fewer than 11 motorists and six pedestrians had been booked and were taking turn before the magistrate.
One of the booked motorists, who identified himself simply as Samuel, told our correspondent that as of the time he was stopped, he was using mask while his passenger did not.
He pointed to a family of four standing a few metres away from him, saying, “As you can see, those family members, although were not using masks as of the time they were stopped, they all tied handkerchief to cover their mouths and noses.
“The father even told them they were on their way to hospital. I don’t know why they will still book such people.
“For me, I used mask but this guy who sat beside me did not use it as of the time we were stopped. Yet, I am the one that was booked.”