Compulsory Face Masks, Not Wearing a Face Mask Is Now A Crime!
Compulsory Face Masks, Not Wearing a Face Mask Is Now A Crime!
By Onyekachi Umah
Compulsory Face Masks, Not Wearing a Face Mask Is Now A Crime!
INTRODUCTION
To combat the rising cases of Coronavirus infection in Nigeria, the President of Nigeria has made a new regulation. The new federal regulation (the Coronavirus Disease [COVID-19] Health Protection Regulations 2021) was signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on 26 January 2021 and it is now operational in all parts of Nigeria (since 26 January 2021). Among other things, the regulations have made the wearing of face mask compulsory, consequently its violation is now a crime in all parts of Nigeria.

Compulsory Face Masks
By the new federal regulation, no person in Nigeria will be allowed into a public place without a face mask. The face mask must cover the person’s nose and mouth. A public place under the regulation, includes; “Markets (including open markets), Malls, Supermarkets, Shops, Restaurants, Hotels, Event Centres, Gardens, Leisure Parks, Recreation Centres, Motor Parks, Fitness Centres or any other similar establishment”. Also, this includes; Places of Worship; Workplace and Schools; Banks; Public Transportation Vehicles; Hostels, Boarding Houses and Detention Centres.
 
Failure to wear a nose and mouth mask is now a criminal offence. The offence is punishable with a fine or a term of six months imprisonment or both in accordance with Section 5 of the Quarantine Act. This means that the punishment for violation of the regulation is as provided in the Quarantine Act of 1926. A visit to section 5 of the Quarantine Act shows that the punishment is a fine of not more than Two Hundred Naira (#200.00) (ie.$0.6, (ie.$0.6 at the rate of $1=#360.00) and or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months.

The Quarantine Act is a federal law on the control of dangerous infectious diseases like cholera, plague, smallpox, yellow fever and typhus, and it empowers the President of Nigeria to declare any disease, a dangerous infections disease and make Regulations to prevent and manage public health crisis. It is based on the powers of the Quarantine Act that the President of Nigeria made the new regulation; “the Coronavirus Disease [COVID-19] Health Protection Regulations 2021”.

Conclusion:
Coronavirus is deadly. Face masks (nose and mouth masks) have been proven to limit the spread of coronavirus, hence the need for a federal regulation that makes masks compulsory. Not wearing a nose and mouth mask in a public place is an offence in all parts of Nigeria. The offence is punishable with fine of N200.00 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months or both.

The punishment provided by the Quarantine Act of 1926 has lost touch with the economic realities of Nigeria. The fine is not a deterrence. It is laughable to fine any person Two Hundred Naira (N200.00), when the minimum wage in Nigeria is N30,000.00. Worse still, the fine of N200.00 is the maximum punishment and not the minimum. So, no court in Nigeria can award a punishment for a violation of the Quarantine Act or related regulations, that is higher than N200.00. The National Assembly and their legal aids must wake up to their paid responsibilities. The 95 years old Quarantine Act (made since October 1926) needs to be amended!

Authorities cited are:
1. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.
2. Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 8 of the Quarantine Act of 1926.
3. Regulations 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 15, 18, 24, 31, 32, 33, 34, 39, 40, 42 of the Coronavirus Disease [COVID-19] Health Protection Regulations 2021
4. Onyekachi Umah, “Failure To Wear Nose Mask Is Not An Offence In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 28 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/failure-to-wear-nose-mask-is-not-an-offence-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-557-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
5. Onyekachi Umah, “Nigeria Has No Law Against Public Gathering During COVID-19 Era.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 14 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/nigeria-has-no-law-against-public-gathering-during-covid-19-era-daily-law-tips-tip-547-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
6. Onyekachi Umah, “Is There a Quarantine Act Made in 2004, After That of 1926 in Nigeria?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 5 May 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/is-there-a-quarantine-act-made-in-2004-after-that-of-1926-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-562-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
7. Onyekachi Umah, “Court That Can Try Cases On Quarantine And Lockdown In Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 23 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/court-that-can-try-cases-on-quarantine-and-lockdown-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-554-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk-2/> accessed 28 January 2021.
8. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishment For Violation Of The COVID-19 Regulations Or The Quarantine Act.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 6 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/punishment-for-violation-of-the-covid-19-regulations-or-the-quarantine-act-daily-law-tips-tip-541-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021
9. Onyekachi Umah, “Illegality Of Covid-19 Regulations Of 2020 And The Toothless Quarantine Act Of 1926” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 1 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/illegality-of-covid-19-regulations-of-2020-and-the-toothless-quarantine-act-of-1926-daily-law-tips-tip-538-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
10. Onyekachi Umah, “How To Legally Declare State Of Emergency Over Covid-19 In Nigeria Or Any State.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 15 May 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/how-to-legally-declare-state-of-emergency-over-covid-19-in-nigeria-or-any-state-daily-law-tips-tip-570-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021
11. Onyekachi Umah, “Can “NCDC” Make Regulations For Nigeria?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 29 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-ncdc-make-regulations-for-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-558-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
12. Onyekachi Umah, “Management and Disposal of COVID-19 Corpses in Nigeria.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 27 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/management-and-disposal-of-covid-19-corpses-in-nigeria-daily-law-tips-tip-556-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> access 28 January 2021.
13. Onyekachi Umah, “COVID-19 and Landlords: Can Government Force Landlords Not To Eject Tenants?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 15 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/covid-19-and-landlords-can-government-force-landlords-not-to-eject-tenants-daily-law-tips-tip-548-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
14. Onyekachi Umah, “Punishment For Price Increment During COVID-19 Lockdown In Lagos State.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 13 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/punishment-for-price-increment-during-covid-19-lockdown-in-lagos-state-daily-law-tips-tip-546-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
15. Onyekachi Umah, “Persons That Must Provide Medical Equipment For COVID-19.” (LarnNigerianLaws.com, 10 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/persons-that-must-provide-medical-equipment-for-covid-19-daily-law-tips-tip-545-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
16. Onyekachi Umah, “Can An Offender Be Convicted Under The Lagos State Infectious Diseases Regulations Or Other States’ Regulations?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 9 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/can-an-offender-be-convicted-under-the-lagos-state-infectious-diseases-regulations-or-other-states-regulations-daily-law-tips-tip-544-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
17. Onyekachi Umah, “The COVID-19 Laws In States Or State Of Emergency: Best Tool In Fighting Coronavirus?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 8 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/the-covid-19-laws-in-states-or-state-of-emergency-best-tool-in-fighting-coronavirus-daily-law-tips-tip-543-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
18. Onyekachi Umah, “House Rent And COVID-19: Can Landlords Evict Tenants?” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 7 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/house-rent-and-covid-19-can-landlords-evict-tenants-daily-law-tips-tip-542-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.
19. Onyekachi Umah, “Shooting Of Isolation Centers’ Escapees Is Unlawful And Punishable.” (LearnNigerianLaws.com, 3 April 2020) <https://learnnigerianlaws.com/shooting-of-isolation-centers-escapees-is-unlawful-and-punishable-daily-law-tips-tip-540-by-onyekachi-umah-esq-llm-aciarbuk/> accessed 28 January 2021.

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