COVID-19: Investigate Alleged Manhandling Of Benue Index Case (Mrs. I. O. Suzan Lawani), Eze Charges Buhari

.…Suspects PDP using her detention to blackmail, smear Nigeria’s image
….Charges NCDC to replicate the Madagascar experience
……Asks for the disbandment of the FG Palliative Committee

Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has called on President Mohammadu Buhari to swiftly intervene over the continued detention and dehumanizing treatment of a woman, Mrs. Suzan Lawani, the alleged index case of the dreaded Covid-19 in Benue State.

In a statement made available to media houses both within and outside Nigeria, the party chieftain expressed disappointment over the manner the government of Benue state allegedly went about the handling of the situation, describing it as contrary to every global rules governing the health profession and professionals which is anchored on confidentiality.

Recall that a video of Mrs. Laweni narrating the circumstances that led to her detention in a health facility in Benue and later Abuja as well as the inhumane and agonizing treatment she is currently suffering from the hands of health officials attached to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC), has gone viral and is currently commanding wider circulation in the media space.

From the viral clip, Mrs. Laweni lamented thus:

“Good Afternoon fellow Nigerians. My name is Susan Idoku Okpeni Laweni, coming to you live from my forceful detention centre (43days in forceful detention)”.

“Yes I am the lady that was accused of first Covid index Case in Benue State by the Benue State Government”.

“My story is that I came from England on the 22nd of March for my Mum’s burial and that was it. I was jet lagged, like everybody has asked: what took you to the hospital? I was jet lagged, went to the hospital to have myself checked. The doctor said they were going to check me which they did. Said that I had little bit of temperature and I said I had no temperature because I was only having jet lag. My body was paining me because I had travelled for almost 24-25hrs in the past two days. Well, he said your temperature is a bit high, I am going to keep you here and check you and I said no problem, I am a law abiding citizen. Yes keep me. He kept me in the hospital overnight, administered anegestics, the pain was gone. Ready to go home the following day, he told me that he was going to do the standard procedure which was to do swap by the Benue State Government. By the way the hospital is Grace Scottish hospital in Markurdi. I said okay, I am okay with that. Called some two men, who did the swap on my left nose and on my throat. Asked when I was going to get the result, he said in 24hrs. 24hrs passed,I didn’t get the result”.

“The next day which was 27th March, the doctor came to me in the evening to tell me that I was Covid-19 positive from the result that they did, from the swap that they took. I asked where is the result, he said he doesn’t have the result that he was only told and am asking; if I have COVID-19, why don’t I get a result of it? Well he went away and my friend who was also a doctor came to tell me that the Benue State Governor, Ortom was already doing a press conference with my name. A doctor just came to tell me and a press conference was already going on with my name as the first index Case in Benue State. Went down to ask the doctor what all this was about, all I was told was that they were helping me to fight with the state Government. On what basis, what has happened? I don’t know, where is the result? I don’t have. That was it. I told them that if this was a drama or Nigerian Nollywood movie, I wasn’t going to be part of it. Went back upstairs to get my bag to leave the hospital because I was thinking this was getting out of hand now and this time I was okay, nothing was wrong with me. I didn’t have a headache, I only had body pain and I knew it was because of the journey I did or the journey I made”.

“Before going Upstairs, and coming down, the hospital had been called off by armed men, ambulance and the deputy Governor and his team came and removed me to an isolation centre because that was a community hospital and I knew well, whether it was staged or it wasn’t staged, Nigerians will judge for themselves. I was taken to Isolation centre, dehumanised, traumatized, because already my name was in the press and gone all over. I have been video taped, recorded and sent on the internet already. Stayed at the Isolation centre for 10days and then moved to Abuja”.

“Nigerians, I am crying out because I know there are people who do not have a voice to speak for themselves. I know people who have been dehumanised, traumatized and stigmatized like the Benue State Governor has done to me. He has stigmatized me with COVID-19 already that I do not have. I am brought to Abuja here, what else would have been done, enquiries would have been made. I wasn’t given the result until after 15days in Abuja. Precisely, 8th of April, they gave me the report which I can publish for Nigerians to see”.

“On that report, it stated that I came into this country, on the 28th of Feb. On the 28th of February, I was still in England. It also stated in that report that I presented myself to the hospital to the hospital with fever and stooling on the 16th of March which wasn’t true. On the 16th of March,I was in England,I came into Nigeria on the 22nd of March, I went to the hospital on the 24th of March. So in the report, there was nothing today that,the report was my report. Based on that, the Nigerian centre for disease control,still using that report and the name on it and before I forget to say, the birth day,the date that was put in that report said 58 and 62 and I am not, 58 and I am not 62, I am 50+ not near that age. So I was still wandering whose report was that.

But it’s still that report, that the National centre for disease control are still working on and still holding me here. Even if I have Covid19 was it not right for the state government or Ortom himself and his team,the commissioners and people concerned in Benue state to counsel me and speak to me, instead of taking my name to the press? Is that the standard for the world health Organization (WHO)? Is that what the World Health Organization said should be done to patients with Covid 19? Why I that of Nigerians different? Permit me to say now that even if anybody has Covid19 in Nigeria, they will not come out because of stigmatization. They would be so afraid for their life, like I am afraid for my life.

43 days and I am still forcefully detained. They would be afraid for their lives because nobody will come out and then the work of the NCDC will not have any effect because people are scared to be stigmatized, like I have been done to. Fellow Nigerians what is the rationale behind what is happening to me. NCDC have done three test on me since I am in this forceful detention centre. They did a test on the 10th, they did one on the 15th, they did one on the 17th, as I speak to you, I do not have the result of one test that he been conducted here . And I am still been harrased to do another test”.

“Nigerians, if you were to be in my position,will you do another test without result? If they want me to do a test, and would want to force medication down my throat,which I have not taken in the past 43days I have not taken any medication,I have not had any symptoms till now and they want me to take medication and still continue with the test, that is what everybody is saying. This woman is stubborn,this woman is rude, this woman has said that they don’t know what to do. No,Nigerians I am crying out for the sake of my other fellow Nigerians whom might find themselves in this situation. Why would I not be given the test that was done? If I have to see another doctor,if I have to go back to my base,what do I present to them? I don’t have a result for the three test that was done and everyday they call in Psychiatrist doctors to come and talk to me and think I am insane”.

“Nigerians, I am crying out, please amplify my voice. The Benue state Government must apologise to me and also apologize to Nigerians for stigmatizing me and also making it impossible for NCDC to their work properly because nobody is going to come out to say they have Covid19 if they have it . For the fear of stigmatization”.

It can be deduced from the explanation of Mrs. Laweni that there exists a potpourri of issues that require urgent government investigation to douse the tension already created among citizens by the unguarded manner the PDP led state government went about the situation.

“After watching the video and how she was lured into detention, I can only deduce that her case is just an implementation of a wicked and devious plot to smear the good image of Nigeria by the PDP agents through the PDP government in Benue State”, Eze said.

The party chief stressed that such scenario is capable of diminishing public confidence on the reality of the virus and bringing the efforts of the Federal Government at tackling its spread to naught.

The extent of maltreatment suffered by this woman who does not show symptom of any ailment, let alone being a carrier of the deadly COVID 19 is an exhibition of ineptitude and crass maladministration by the Benue state government and therefore calls for a public apology as demanded.

Contrary to claims by the Benue state government, the woman merely had a jet lag, having spent over 24 hours on in air en route Nigeria from England for her mother’s burial. She was then accused of suffering from the deadly Conavirus by the state government with falsified report which does not in any way tally with her documents.

Eze described the action of the state government as dishonesty, evidencing unnecessary desperation to have a Covid-19 case, probably with the inordinate intention of attracting sympathy, financial donations and largesse from Federal Government, corporate organizations and spirited individuals.

“I am pleading with Mr. President not only to investigate this case with the amount of seriousness it deserves but also save the woman from further unnecessary hardship and dehumanizing treatment by authorising her immediate release by agents that want to tarnish the image of our great nation.”

Accordingly, Chief Eze commended the Boss Mustapha-led Presidential Task Force on COVID 19 Pandemic for the commitment it has so far exhibited to secure the lives of Nigerians from the deadly virus. He further appealed to the Committee and particularly the Ministry of Health to collaborate with Nigerians who have developed possible cure and ready to join forces with the Federal Government to help in the fight against the deadly virus.

“I am convinced that with the necessary support and encouragement, Nigerians are capable of surpassing whatever this Scientists in Madagascar may have developed to tackle and contain the spread of this virus in their country. Looking down on our scientists and traditional Herbalists is not the best way to develop a nation like ours”. Eze said.

Owing to the obvious fact that Nigerians are not feeling the impact of the so called distribution and circulation of the palliative, Eze called for the disbandment and investigation of the ministry and committee in charge of FG’s palliatives. He aligned with the position of Senator Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC, that funds in this regard should be paid directly to Nigerians that have BVN.

He called on the President to stop all the loopholes created to siphon the common patrimony of the nation. “Enough is enough” he said.

Eze reiterated that the pandemic is a call on the leadership to invest more in the Health sector and prepare the country ahead of similar health emergencies in future.

Eze appeals to all Nigerians to make this report go viral and ensure that it gets the attention of Mr. President so that this innocent woman will get justice not minding that this report is copied to the two Principal Media Aides of Mr. President, Mr. Femi Adesina and Mal. Shehu Garba, my good friend, Akasa Terver the CPS to Governor Samuel Orthom and few members of NCDC.

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