By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law- (INTERSOCIETY) has written an open letter to the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reminding him of the core functions of his agency which includes but not limited to coronavirus alone and calling on him to sit up, take full charge and deliver on its statutory mandate.
According to the group, the core functions Of NCDC are: (a) Prevent, detect, and control diseases of public health importance. (b) Coordinate surveillance systems to collect, analyze and interpret data on diseases of public health importance. (c)Support States in responding to small outbreaks, and lead the response to large disease outbreaks. (d) Develop and maintain a network of reference and specialized laboratories. (e) Conduct, collate, synthesize and disseminate public health research to inform policy. (f) Lead Nigeria’s engagement with the international community on diseases of public health relevance.
The group therefore insisted that the failure of the Centre to take full charge in the core functions highlighted above gave rise to the censored and mutilated opinions and guesswork reports on harvest of infections and deaths ravaging Northern Nigeria.
Intersociety’s allegation that the sudden and mishandled mass deaths in the north would have been prevented or reduced to the barest minimum had the Center risen to its statutory duties, functions and responsibilities in Godly time; was contained in the letter signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chair; Barr Damaris Amaka Onuoha, Head, Campaign & Publicity and Barr Obianuju Joy Igboeli
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law.
The statement reads:
Dear Director General,
Your Center’s Failure To Take Full Charge Is Encouraging Censored And Mutilated Opinions And Guesswork Reports On Harvest Of Infections & Deaths In Northern Nigeria
The Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law-INTERSOCIETY is writing your Center again to express deep concerns over the Center’s failure to take full charge of its duties, functions and responsibilities as ‘Nigeria’s Center for Disease Control’, a failure that now encourages censored and mutilated opinions and guesswork reports on harvest of infections and deaths ravaging Northern Nigeria. The Governors and Governments of the affected States have also been lying about the true situations in their respective States; thereby put more citizens at the risk of losing their safety and precious lives.
Your Center’s failure in this regard has made it to conspiratorially and vicariously cause thousands of infections and multiple hundreds of deaths in the country particularly in Northwest and Northeast regions. These mass infections and deaths occurred on account of negative mass effects of such ‘contaminated’ opinions and reports on the citizenry. It has become so alarming that everybody in the country including media practitioners is now a ‘medical expert’ including epidemiologist or virologist.
Functions & Powers NCDC Never Exercised: By the NCDC Act of 2018, “the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies. The first formal step to establish the NCDC took place in 2011 when some departments in the Ministry of Health, including the Epidemiology Division, the Avian Influenza Project and its laboratories; and the Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program (NFELTP) were moved to form the nucleus of the agency. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018 by the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
Core Functions Of NCDC: (a) Prevent, detect, and control diseases of public health importance. (b) Coordinate surveillance systems to collect, analyze and interpret data on diseases of public health importance. (c)Support States in responding to small outbreaks, and lead the response to large disease outbreaks. (d) Develop and maintain a network of reference and specialized laboratories. (e) Conduct, collate, synthesize and disseminate public health research to inform policy. (f) Lead Nigeria’s engagement with the international community on diseases of public health relevance.
NCDC Is Not For COVID-19 Alone: Sir, as you can see from the core functions of your Center highlighted above, the Center is not only for COVID-19, but generally established for purpose of ‘preventing, detecting and controlling diseases of public importance’. Diseases of public importance elementarily include any disease capable of causing “mass infections and deaths in a place or places and within a population or among populations over a shortest period of time with attributes of pandemic or epidemic”. In the instant case, therefore, meningitis, lassa fever and cholera outbreaks, etc are inclusive. In this era of COVID-19, if aided by same, deaths arising from them can safely and validly be described as ‘coronavirus aided deaths’.
Lying As Official Policy In Nigeria
We had in our statement of 10th May 2020 expressed serious concerns over the ravages and havocs caused by lying or falsehoods and cover-ups in Nigeria particularly in its public sector. We had held that “in Christianity, lying is so sinful that its perpetrator is earthly condemned and treated as ‘immoralist’ who, if he or she does not repent, will end up in Hellfire”.
“In Islam, lying is strongly condemned by Prophet Muhammed who further said that ‘Angels cursed liars’ and they must end up in Hellfire. Prophet Muhammed abhorred lying and exhibited honesty during his own time to the extent that he was referred to as ‘Al-Amin’ or The Honest. The Prophet further said: “you must be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness and righteousness leads to Paradise. A man will keep speaking the truth and striving to speak the truth until he will be recorded with Allah as a siddeeq (speaker of the truth)”.
“In law and constitutionalism, biblical, Koranic and court affidavit oaths and codified others including ‘public officers’ oaths of office and allegiance’, court litigations and human rights provisions are all measures put in place to ward off and criminalize lying, falsehood and dishonesty. But in practice in Nigeria particularly in the country’s LGA, State and Federal political and other public offices, lying or falsehood and cover-up have been institutionalized. Government has also introduced ‘censorship’ for purpose of codifying falsehoods and cover-ups and checkmating those who dare to question or kick or speak out against them. Lying under oath in law is an offense of perjuryattracting about fourteen years’ prison term or punishment. The elective political office title of “Excellency” is expressly derived from honesty and impeccability of Character. But in practice, morality and honesty seem to have totally eluded the country’s political space; to the extent that the greatest liars in public offices now go with the title of ‘Their Excellencies’.”
Today’s Sun Newspaper Report: A Reference Point: A clear case in point was contained in today’s (17th May 2020) Sun Newspaper, captioned: “R-e-v-e-a-l-e-d: Why many are dying in Kano, Bauchi, Yobe. Bereaved families, community leaders open up on mysterious deaths”. The report was completely ‘guesswork’ and did not contain ‘expert opinions’ from relevant medical experts or expert bodies such as epidemiologists, virologists or NCDC. The chief aim of this was to shift the causes of the ‘strange deaths’ from ‘COVID-19 or COVID-19 aided; hinging same on ‘natural causes’ or ‘normal occurrences’. This was done without showcasing valid data backups indicating patterns and trends of such mass infections and deaths in the recent past.
The reporters had acknowledged that “NCDC and Kano State Health Ministry were still investigating the cause(s) of the mass deaths in the State”; but went on to magisterially conclude that ‘the deaths were usual and normal occurrences and un-COVID-19 related; relying heavily on ‘guess opinions’ of bereaved families and community leaders. This is a clear case of ‘censored media practice in the country particularly in the North. For more details, the rest of the report is here:https://www.sunnewsonline.com/r-e-v-e-a-l-e-d-why-many-are-dying-in-kano-bauchi-yobe/
Northern Harvest Of Deaths Wickedly Covered Up: In the past 30 days or 17th April to 17th May 2020, Kano State has lost close to, if not more than 50 prominent citizens including at least seven professors, top serving and retired civil servants, media executives, captains of industry, first class traditional rulers and serving and retired security personnel, etc. Deaths of their likes have also been reported in Zamfara, Nasarawa, Sokoto, Taraba, Jigawa, Yobe and Bauchi States. Most of the sudden deaths occurred within three weeks of April 2020 which have never been recorded in the areas since the country’s independence in 1960. The Kano harvest of deaths sprang up first on 17th April 2020, killing 150 under four days.
Deaths of middle and low income earners in Kano (independently estimated at over 1,500), Yobe (over 470 officially reported), Bauchi (over 150 officially reported) and Jigawa (over 200 independently reported) have been in thousands or not less than 2500 deaths in the affected States. There are also independent or unofficial reports of more deaths of low income and middle income earners in Sokoto and others, but were wickedly kept from public knowledge-and-where they are rarely reported, they are attributed to “not unusual or normal occurrences that have nothing to do with COVID-19”.
The official responses of the affected Northern States Governors and their Governments, who also hid the deaths and their figures from public knowledge are that “the deaths have been caused by strange deaths arising from ‘meningitis’, ‘lassa fever’, ‘high fever’, ‘high blood pressure, ‘hypertension’, ‘acute malaria’, ‘hepatitis B’, ‘typhoid fever’, ‘cough and catarr”, etc. Contradictions also abound. Dr Rilwanu Mohammed, Executive Chairman, Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (BASPHCDA), had yesterday, 16th May 2020, told the media that “41 persons had died of Lassa fever from January to date in the state”.
Only last week the Bauchi State Governor (Bala Mohammed) told the media that “150 people died in one Local Government (Katagum) in the State within 30 days and their deaths are not in connection with Coronavirus”. But in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari by Hon Ibrahim Muhammed Baba, former Member representing Katagum Federal Constituency in the House of Reps, the former lawmaker disclosed that “over 100 persons died in seven days in Azare area (Katagum LGA) of Bauchi State and their deaths arose from COVID-19 complications”. The letter was dated 8th May 2020. Instances are too to be cited.
Calling On NCDC To Sit Up & Take Full Charge:Your Center is hereby called upon to sit up and take full charge. These sudden and mishandled mass deaths would have been prevented or reduced to the barest minimum had your Center risen to its statutory duties, functions and responsibilities in Godly time; rather, the Center despicably created negative opportunities and lacunas cashed in by ‘prophets and prophetesses of doom’ and ‘the brainwashed citizens’ to lead the deceased to their early graves and creation of fresh grounds for more citizens to head to their early graves.
It is therefore our firm demand that all the infections and deaths in the above mentioned Northern States and similar ones in the rest of the country must be forensically detected and investigated and their findings made public. The country’s citizens and the international watchers would want to be expertly told what caused those infections and deaths, the specific (i.e. deaths in a particular State or LGA) and general number of deaths; if their causes are multi layered such as by COVID-19 and others; the yearly patterns and trends of such ‘strange’ deaths in the affected States in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 if they are not truly COVID-19 caused, or caused by ‘usual or normal occurrences’. In other words, how many citizens including dozens of prominent citizens of Kano and others have died of such ‘strange ailments and deaths’ by this time of last year or the preceding years?
For: Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law
Barr Damaris Amaka Onuoha
Head, Campaign & Publicity
Barr Obianuju Joy Igboeli
Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law