The national president, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria (EHOAN), Comrade Jamilu Shuaibu, has exonerated members of his association of allegedly having hands in the ill-fated decontamination exercise recently conducted in Ekiti state. The decontamination resulted in the hospitalisation of 100 students as widely reported in some national dailies.
At a press conference in Kano, Sunday, he wondered why such a blame should be apportioned to members of the association for what they knew nothing about.
He added that the fumigation exercise ought to be handled by a professional government agency which was primarily saddled with the task of conducting it.
He said the issue of seeking collaboration in a situation where there was the need for co-opting professional agencies like EHOAN, prevent the risk of incurring unpleasant consequences which would not have arisen as it happened in Ekiti state. He added that conducting fumigation exercise by the Federal Fire Service (FFS) alone was a task that ought not to be executed without seeking collaboration of professional government agencies.
He said: “In all honesty, our members were never a party to such illegal act. Everyone in the country was fully conversant of the fact that the responsibility of the fire service was clearly spelt out. Fire men are saddled with the responsibility of rescuing victims trapped in a collapsed building. They also carry out fire fighting role in case of fire incident. They also rescued people in a situation in which one got drowned in a river or pond.
“Let me cite a good example as far as the role of members of our professional body is concerned: At the peak of the much dreaded COVID-19, we got involved in the task of conducting fumigation and decontamination and recorded no casualties as a fall-out of that exercise. Our members were conversant with the nitty-gritty of handling such a herculean task.
“It is our contention that the Federal Fire Service should desist from conducting fumigation or decontamination exercise in a situation where by collaboration from notable professional agencies was not sought. They cannot give what they don’t have, it is a professional job for trained, registered and licensed environmental health officers and private practitioners,” he remarked.
“In this case, we are calling on the federal government to direct such responsibility to the appropriate professional agencies in order to avoid such a mess. There is also the need for employing adequate environmental health officers in the nation’s public service . There is also the compelling need for the Federal Fire Service to tender an unreserved apology to our members nationwide,” he concluded.