The Oyo State Government on Wednesday said it was set to punish open defecators and those who indiscriminately dump refuse.
It said this is part of efforts to help reduce significantly or completely eradicate cases of open defecation in the state.
The Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Dotun Oyelade, disclosed this at a 2-day media dialogue on open defecation free in the South-West states, held in Ibadan.
The gathering, which was sponsored by UNICEF, was attended by media executives from the five south-west states.
Prince Oyelade added that the move to penalise open defecators and indiscriminate dumping of refuse was part of efforts aimed at achieving the national target of ending open defecation in Nigeria by 2027.
He stated that the Executive Governor of Oyo State, Engr. Seyi Makinde has unequivocal mandated the Ministry of Justice to ensure prosecution of anyone who dumps refuses or defecates openly in the State.
Prince Oyelade said the penalty, when fully in place, would promote behavioural change in the hygiene of citizens and curb open defecation.
He said, “Oyo State Government is willing to effect the necessary behavioural change in open defecation, working with UNICEF’s WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) action plan.
“In Oyo State, we have adopted the WASH action plan, and if need be, we will back it up with legislation,” Prince Oyelade added.
“And the Ministry of Justice has been mandated to penalise defecators and those dumping refuse in illegal sites. Also, law enforcement agencies will do their bit.”
“It is sad that Nigeria has taken over from Egypt by recording the highest rate of open defecation,” he said.
Prince Dotun Oyelade said the Oyo State Government, before 2027, will ensure much improvement in the social menaces and all other diseases plaguing the state.
He therefore appealed to residents to patronise Government approved waste Consultant and stop the unhygienic practice of open defecation.
He said, “To this end, billboards will be erected at major junctions and entry points of the State, to discourage anyone from practising any environmental infractions, and the penalties.
He added, “The Oyo State government is bent on ensuring residents obey the law of social etiquette.”
Prince Oyelade pledged Oyo State Government’s continued partnership with UNICEF on ensuring Oyo State is open defecation-free.
Earlier, UNICEF WASH Specialist, Mr. Monday Johnson revealed that according to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, about 48 million Nigerians are practising open defecation.
Mr. Johnson said disposal of human faeces in the open, including fields, forests, bushes, open bodies of water and other open spaces in a common practice in the country.
He said though Oyo State has one of the highest data of unhygienic practice of open defecation in the South-West, UNICEF is glad that it has progressively started actions to end open defecation.