By Stanley Onyekwere
An Abuja Environmental Protection (Board) Mobile Court yesterday unsealed the Jabi Lake Mall after 10 days, hitherto closed for violating the COVID-19 restriction order the nation’s capital city.
The Court presided by Magistrate Idayat Akonni, also ordered Management of the Mall to publish an unreserved apology to the government in national dailies, for breaching the nation’s prevailing precautionary health protocols, established to contain the spread of Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19 pandemic.
Akonni who ordered that the Mall should immediately be re-opened, stated that she made the order following the hearing on an application filed by the counsel to the Jabi Lake Mall management, Barrister Nnamdi Ekwem, praying the court to unseal the business premises.
Recall that the Mall was sealed up over a week ago, following an order of same court presided for hosting a “ Drive-in- Music Concert that had performance from Lagos-based controversial artist, Naira Marley, which attracted crowd within the premises, against the social distancing rules and the extant 10pm-4am curfew.
However, Akonni explained that the vacation of the seal up order was based on the overall interest of those who will affected adversely, should the Mall remain closed.
She also observed that the Mall has over 100 employees and other tenants who are not co-offenders in the matter, and may have their fundamental human rights seriously infringed upon.
According to her, the order is also based on compassion, especially, in consideration of the economic loses that will be suffered by those affected, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 on the people.
Also, three staff of the Mall, who were arraigned before the Mobile Court that sat at Jabi, were accused of organising a concert that violated the COVID-19 health safety guidelines and other protocols approved by the Presidential Task Force.
Speaking to newsmen after the Court sitting, counsel to the Jabi Lake Mall management, Barrister Nnamdi Ekwem expressed satisfaction with the court ruling on the matter.
Ekwem, who is managing partner Federic and Co, while noting the swift steps taken by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to carry out the unsealing order of the court, promised to advise appropriately Jabi Lake Mall management on the issue of tendering an unreserved apology to the government, as ordered by the court.
Reacting to the development, Chairman of FCT Ministerial TaskForce on COVID -19, Ikharo Attah said FCT Administration has no objections to the rulings of the court, because the administration wants to remain a model in obeying the rule of law.
Attah noted that FCT Minister, Mallam Muhammad Bello has demonstrated a strong will to respect the laws while striving for good governance.
While stressing that nobody can violate the laws and go unpunished in FCT, also added that the management of the Mall is expected to as soon as possible comply with the order of the court on publishing an apology to government on national dalies,
Attah said, “ In the wisdom of the court, it has decided to re-open the Mull after 10 days, and also asking that the Jabi Lake Mall Management to publish an apology to government on national dalies, we expect it as quick as possible.
“ We have shown the world that government works here, we have also shown that the rule of law is respected here. We abide by the order, since the court’s judgment is based on compassion and the economic loses already recorded”, he added.