COVID-19: Come to our rescue, Ganduje begs Buhari



Kano state Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje Tuesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led central government to come to the aid of the state government to stem the rising number of COVID-19 related casualties.

Of the 38 cases recorded Monday, Kano had 23 thus bringing the total number of cases in the state to 59.

Until Saturday, 11th April, 2020, Kano was among states that were yet to be hit by the dreaded coronavirus.

The state however became exposed to the virus after a case flew in from Lagos and ultimately died Wednesday, 15th April, 2020, a day it also confirmed 12 new cases.

And in a space of 10-11 days, the state had recorded 59 cases, a development that forced Governor Ganduje to cry out to the federal government for possible support as done to Lagos which currently tops the chart of cases.

The governor made the plea while receiving in audience Director General Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu in Kano.

While saying the cases were within the metropolis, the governor pleaded that the earlier the federal government’s support comes, the better, before community transmission in the rural areas begins.

He said:  “So far, we do not have any serious case in the state. However, we need to get prepared. We need additional testing centre in the state, we need vehicles and protection kits, we need coordination, we need rapid responses and we need palliative.

“Kano is the third on the list of states with a high number of COVID-19 cases and is the most populated state in the federation. We, therefore, need financial support from the federal government.”
The governor further said:  “Despite our population with less economic power than Lagos state which is economically viable, the federal government didn’t give any support while our positive cases continue to rise.”

Speaking during the visit, DG NCDC Ihekweazu reassured of the agency’s readiness to support collaborative efforts with state governments across the nation in putting down the global pandemic.

The NCDC boss said he was in Kano for an on-the-pot assessment of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state and measures being taken by the state government to address the issue.

Ihekweazu said the agency would design modalities to support Kano state in its effort at containing the virus in the state, stressing that the NCDC was working hard to ensure the virus was curtailed nationwide.

Taskforce urges compliance

In a related development, the Kano state Deputy Governor and Chairman of Taskforce Committee on COVID-19, Dr Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, has cautioned against spreading rumours on the pandemic, saying it undermined the collective effort at averting the spread of the disease.

Chief Press Secretary to the deputy governor, Mr. Hassan Musa Fagge, quoted Gawuna as saying this in a statement Tuesday.

Dr Gawuna said the committee and other health workers were doing their possible best to bring an end of the pandemic, adding that “there is utmost need for people to give their necessary support and cooperation to address the situation instead of spreading false information.

“As it is well known, some of us must come out and sacrifice in discharging our professional duties to fight against the spread of the disease. So under any circumstances, we will continue to do the needful, and for those who became infected in this process, ours is to pray for their quick recovery.”

Probes rising deaths

Meanwhile, the state government has begun investigation into claims that there was a surge in deaths in Kano metropolis.

Executive Secretary Kano State Primary Healthcare Board Dr Tijjani Hussaini said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Tuesday in Kano.

 He said the medics were yet to ascertain the medical cause of the said deaths, but acknowledged that the situation had “sent residents panicking.”

“The investigation is prompted by reports that more deaths have been recorded in the past seven days,” Hussaini, who did not state the number of deaths so far recorded, told NAN.

Hussaini said the investigation was focusing on the symptoms exhibited by the victims before giving up.

“We want to know the number of persons already dead. We also want to investigate how they died. It is when we have a good idea; it is when we get the outcome of the findings that we can properly draw conclusions and brief the public,” he said.

Speaking along same line, the Commissioner for Health, Dr Aminu Tsanyawa, told NAN that the ministry had embarked on clinical investigation to unravel the cause of the said deaths in Kano metropolis.

Tsanyawa advised residents of the metropolis not to panic, urging them to observe preventive measures and personal hygiene while complying with the stay-at-home order.

“The ministry is aware of social media reports insinuating mass deaths in the metropolis. We will soon address the issue,” he said.

Commenting on the situation, Professor Isa Abubakar, Director, Centre for Infectious Diseases (CID), Bayero University Kano (BUK), said the rising number of deaths recorded during the lockdown may not necessarily be linked to COVID-19 pandemic.

Abubakar, who is also an expert in Public Health and Community Medicine, added that the increasing rate of deaths could be attributed to other reasons.  (NAN)

Security agents kill 23

Meanwhile, no fewer than 23 citizens have been killed with several others brutalised and their human rights violated by security operatives in states where the lockdown was being imposed.

The lockdown order, which was a measure to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and keep Nigerians safe has regrettably turned out to be deadly with the loss of several innocent lives, report by the CLEEN Foundation has revealed.

The federal government had on March 31 enforced a restriction of movement in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja (FCT), for an initial 14 days period to tackle the disease in the country.

On April 13, the restriction of movement was extended for another 14 days due to the rising incidents of the pandemic, with some governors following suit.

As a fallout of this, a report signed d by Executive Director CLEEN Foundation Benson Olugbuo and made available to Blueprint Tuesday in Abuja, showed 23 documented incidents of extra-judicial killing across the country.

Out of this number, 12 deaths were recorded in Kaduna state. Abia state recorded 5 deaths, Anambra state 2 deaths, while Delta, Niger, Ebonyi and Katsina states recorded 1 each. 

Notably, 18 of the incidents were confirmed by the National Human Rights Commission with the exception of those that occurred within the last few days.

Abia

CLEEN’s report on South-east region of the country revealed that the first incident happened on April 5, 2020 at Umuahia Road Aba where a police officer allegedly killed a petrol station attendant, along popular New Umuahia road in Obingwa Local Government Area. 

The cop, Stanley Azu, is reportedly serving under Azumini Police Division in Ukwa East LGA of Abia state.

He was said to have tried stopping a vehicle that violated the lockdown order occasioned by the coronavirus outbreak, but the driver defied the instruction. 

“Residents of the area said the police inspector chased the driver and reportedly fired at him. The bullet hit Chibuisi, who was in his business centre. Chibuisi was said to have been pronounced dead at Abia State Teaching Hospital where he was rushed to for urgent medical attention. 

“Chibuisi until his death was a staff of Greenmac Energy Ltd, a filling station owned by his in-law. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Ene Okon who confirmed the incident said the officer has been arrested, adding that the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) has taken over the matter.” 

The second death, according to the report happened on April 7, 2020 at Umuneeochi LGA in Abia state.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police, Abia state Command also confirmed the killing of an innocent young man identified as Ifeanyi Arunsi on Friday, 17th April, 2020 night in Ebem Ohafia by a policeman.

Geoffrey Ogbonna, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the command, explained that the policeman was neither on duty nor on COVID-19 preventive assignment, but shot sporadically under the influence of alcohol until a bullet hit the deceased in the buttock.

The Abia state government has since condemned in very strong terms the unwarranted shooting of some Abians and the consequent loss of their lives. It said the breeding recklessness of some security men in the state must be nipped in the bud forthwith.

Chief of Staff to the Governor, Dr. A. Agbazuere, reassured all Abians that anybody who takes the life of an Abian must definitely face justice.

He said the soldier who killed an Abian at Umuokereke Ngwa had been dismissed from the army and presently in prison awaiting justice.

          Imo  

CLEEN reports further revealed that there has been extortions and brutality in some states by the army and police. It said there were pockets of human rights violations by the Army ranging from flogging of citizens and extorting money from commercial bus drivers at different locations in Owerri, particularly at Control Post. 

Ebonyi

There was an earlier directive given by the Ebonyi state governor to security agents to shoot at sight anyone that tries to run away from the state isolation center.  

Some civil society groups in the state had already issued public statements condemning the directive. 

There was a video showing members of the state lockdown enforcement team in Ebonyi who approached villagers that gathered for their village meeting, brutalised and looted their property. 

Enugu

“In Enugu, residents have lamented Police brutality, extortion amid lockdown. Extortion of citizens was recorded in Nnobi, Idemili Anambra State, victims bailed themselves with the sum of one thousand naira each,” the report read.

Illegal arrest and detention of citizens by security operatives was also recorded by in the region, the report added.

It said two observers of CLEEN Foundation intervened in a case at Enugu state on Easter Monday 13th April, 2020. 

“A man was arrested for walking on the street in the state but through prompt intervention of two volunteers of CLEEN Foundation, he was released. Also, Toll gate Police station Ogbunike illegally arrested the siblings of Ms Nzube Chukwu of Amawa village Ogbunike for a fight she had with a relative but when the Police came for the arrest, they didn’t see Ms Nzube Chukwu, however against the rules of engagement of the Nigeria Police Force, they arrested her mother, Mrs. Christiana and brother, Peter Chukwubunna aged 14years. 

“They were detained at the station and paid a total of twenty-six thousand naira for bail and instructed to report to the station today 13th April, 2020 with Ms Nzube.”

Akwa Ibom

In Akwa Ibom state, a health professional and staff of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital on essential duty was brutally assaulted by a police officer. In Lagos state.

CLEEN said it’s observers reported instances where officers of the Nigerian Army subjected some persons to untoward physical exercise for flouting the stay-at-home order.

It also said, certain areas in the Federal Capital Territory witnessed intimidation by security personnel as the officials resorted to the use of force to send people back to their houses along the Airport road. 

Furthermore, in Ekiti state, our observers reported acts of brutality by NSCDC officials and officials of the state taskforces involved in rights violations.

Extortion of Citizens by Security Operatives was another major highlight of the reports.

CLEEN observers in the Ifako-Ijaiye axis of Lagos state confirmed the activities of police in extortion of citizens who were asked to pay between 50,000 to 100,000 Naira for violation of restriction order.

“In Nnobi, Idemili Anambra state, some police personnel extorted monies from citizens who violated the stay at home order.

Stay-at-home compliance  

On compliance to the lockdown, the report revealed that the stay-at-home-order has been partially observed by the citizens with movement restriction obeyed to an extent.

“In Imo state, the sit-at-home order is active to some extent, however, people have been freely moving around for their daily businesses. 

“In Enugu State, it was something else at the poultry market in Nsukka, as many people boycotted the stay at home order from the government to shop for Easter chicken. Abia residents also flouted the stay at home order. (COVID-19 Lockdown: Aba residents flout stay-at-home order.”

The reports found further that majority of the security personnel did not use force at all, according to 57% of observers, to enforce the lockdown.

Also, 34% reported the use of force by few of the security personnel while 6% and 3% noted that all/most of the security personnel used force while on COVID-19 enforcement duty.

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