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Covid-19: Benue Govt must release lady detained for 50 days yet without symptoms

By Azowue O. Emmanuel

Human right abuse and the fight against Covid-19 in Nigeria

The last time I checked, Nigeria is still practicing constitutional democracy which protects the fundamental human rights of her citizens from all forms of abuse; be it from the government, her agents or from fellow citizens or foreigners operating in the country. But since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Nigeria, it appears that the government and her agents have embarked on several forms of abuse of the rights of her citizens under the disguise of fighting against the further spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Some Nigerians have been killed by some trigger careless security operatives in their bid to carry out the directives of the government mandating citizens to stay indoors for a period of time. These unlawful and cruel actions were done even when there are mobile courts in place, kept to prosecute offenders of the government directive. These unfortunate incidents have pitched the citizens against the government and the security operatives in some states, and this has been a burning issue that has been trending on social media for some time now.

This piece will be evaluating two notable cases of human right abuse of Nigerian citizens’ in Anambra and Benue States. The first coronavirus index case in Anambra State was saddled with controversy as the said patient disputed the claim made by the government and the Staff of the NCDC that had declared him positive of the virus. It took the intervention of some prominent Nigerians and top government officials in the country to resolve the matter before the said patient was allowed to return back home.

The case of Benue State was more dramatic and pathetic. The supposed first coronavirus index case in Benue State was a returnee from Britain who had returned back to the country for the burial of her mother. Several tests were said to have been carried out on her and she was asked to stay back in the state isolation centre for 48 hours when her test result would have been out. She willingly obliged to the directive.

But while she was still speaking to one of the doctors that carried out the coronavirus test on her after the 48hours, the Benue State Governor was already on air to declare her the first index coronavirus case in the state. This prompted her to demand for her test result to ascertain the claims made by the NCDC officials and the state government. Unfortunately, the doctors and the NCDC staff were unable to present her with the test results; rather, they demanded to carry out another round of tests on her which she refused.

She was later moved to the National Hospital in Abuja and kept in isolation, where a fresh test was to be conducted on her, but she maintained her stand that further tests cannot be carried out on her until the test results of the first test is presented to her. She was thereafter abandoned in the hospital to her fate.

Based on the information the NCDC have been passing on to Nigerians, all symptoms of an infected patient of the coronavirus is expected to come to full light after 14days. Ironically, the lady (Susan Lawani) has been under the watch of the NCDC staff and the doctors for more than 50days and counting, and there are yet to be seen any symptom of the coronavirus on her. But reasons best known to the NCDC officials and the government, Susan is still being detained in the isolation facility in Abuja. 

The action of the government and the NCDC officials has further confirmed the suspicions of most Nigerians, that the fight against the spread of the coronavirus in the country has been politicized. Nigerians and the rest of the world are still wondering the justification behind the continual detention of a supposed patient of the coronavirus after 50 days and still counting, for a disease that is supposed to have manifested fully after 14days.

The action of the government is a glaring abuse of her fundamental human right of free movement, and the government should have covered her face in shame for not being able to present her with her test result to confirm her coronavirus status instead of detaining her without any tangible justification.

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