Members of the civil society organisations (CSOs) in Edo State defied early morning downpour on Monday to protest against the state government’s directive on compulsory COVID-19 vaccination by residents before accessing a large gathering.

Obaseki at a briefing on August 23rd had named such gathering to include church service, Juma’at mosque, banks, wedding or burial receptions, among others.

The Governor said such gatherings will no longer be accessed without presenting the vaccine certificate from the second week of September.

Obaseki had stated that the third wave of COVID-19 was causing devastating effects across the country, hence the need to introduce stiffer measures to curtail the effect.

But protesters, who marched through the streets of Benin City, the state capital, armed with placards with various inscription such as “Obaseki Can’t Force Us To Take COVID-19 vaccines”, “I Have Right To Mosque”, “We Have Right To Decide”, among others.

They said the plans by the government was tantamount to trampling on the fundamental rights of the citizens.

The protesters under the aegis of Equity Initiatives while addressing journalists at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) secretariat in Benin City, asked the governor to face infrastructural decay and insecurity in the state instead of forcing residents to take COVID-19 vaccine.

Convener and spokesperson for the group, Chris Iyama, said, “we are here to express our displeasure over government’s move to force Edo people to take COVID-19 vaccines. This is against our fundamental human rights.

“You cannot force someone to eat what he or she doesn’t want. Are we in a Banana Republic? We own the state not the government.”

Also, the interim state chairman, Edo civil society, Bishop Osadolor Anthony Ochei, said it is the right of the citizens to decide whether to be vaccinated or not.

“If the government have failed, we cannot fail ourself. Government have the right to make policies but this policy is not law,” Ochei noted.

The protesters had earlier protested at the state’s office of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Edo State Government House.