COVID-19: Rights activist makes plea for female prisoners…Says it is Worrisome that Nigeria has Recorded More deaths of Citizens from alleged killings by Security Agents

…Warns that Trader Money must not be confused with COVID-19 Palliatives

By Henry Umoru

AN Observer group, Centre for Transparency Advocacy, CTA, Friday warned the Federal ans state governments against politicizing the Coronavirus, COVID-19 issue that is at the moment, ravaging the world.

According to the group, if not checked properly, there are moves by  some politicians under the aegis of  providing palliatives to Nigerians across the States  to score political points.

In a statement yesterday by CTA Executive Director, Faith Nwadishi, the group is expressing  fears that the volume of donations coming from both local and foreign organisations may be mismanaged if Nigerians  fold their arms and simply watch the process, adding that strong indications have emerged that some states may be joggling figures in order to receive more attention, money and materials from the Relief Fund and palliatives.

The CTA has also said that the  most worrisome at the moment is that Nigeria as a country  has recorded more deaths of citizens from alleged killings by security agents especially the Police and the Nigerian Army than the deaths from the Coronavirus.

The statement read, “The government at all levels should not politicise the COVID-19 Pandemic matters as this will not help in any way in the fight against this deadly virus.  CTA has observed lately, that there is a gradual policization of the pandemic across the states and we must guard against.

“The disease is not a respecter of person and all hands must be on deck to fight it.  It will be dangerous to joggle figures as it seems in some states in order to receive more attention, money and materials from the Relief Fund and palliatives. This is a dangerous trend and must be halted immediately if it is so.

“In this critical period, transparency and accountability should be the watchword. The Relief Funds and materials must be properly accounted for, distributed judiciously and equitably in a transparent manner. This is not the time to play politics but time to be humane and serve humanity in all honesty.  The Trader money and Cash Transfer programme should not be confused with the COVID-19 palliative as currently in play.

“The COVID-19 Relief Fund should be separated and vulnerable citizens should benefit from it. This is not the time to curry political favours but to serve Nigerians and save us from the pandemic!

“CTA commends the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control especially, the Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu for being on top of the issues as well as the Federal Task Force on COVID-19.

“We are also specially commending the health care providers who have made themselves available at this time by risking their lives to make the rest of the citizenry safe and the Lagos State government on the actions it has taken so far. We, therefore, recommend that other states adopt this model and be more proactive in responding to cases.

“CTA is concerned about the highhandedness and abuse of rights of citizens by security agents that are enforcing the Lockdown order by the Federal and state government.  It should worry every right-thinking Nigerian that the country has recorded more deaths of citizens from the security agents especially the Police and the Nigerian Army than the deaths from the Coronavirus.

“This is vile, unacceptable and should be condemned entirely.  We call on the security agencies to respect the rights of the citizens while trying to enforce the lockdown working within the mandate of the operational order and ethics of their profession.

“In like manner, we also call on the citizens to respect the security agents and adhere to the lockdown order.  We appeal to citizens to stay at home even though we recognise the hardship many citizens are facing especially those who depend on the daily income for a living.”

According to Nwadishi, the “CTA has observed that the fight against the Corona Virus has reached a frenzied stage though attracting donations from individuals,  corporate organisations and from the international community in cash, equipment, materials and personnel. There are donations ranging from 11 billion Naira from NNPC, materials from Chinese Billionaire Jack Ma. A big boost came from top Nigerian Billionaires under the umbrella name of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition against COVID-19.

“Their efforts have yielded more than 15 billion Naira in donations and recently, 50 million Euros was donated by the European Union. These donations are aside what the Federal government announced as its budget for the pandemic and its intention to set up a 500 Billion Naira fund to tackle the disease. As welcome as this may be, we call for transparent and judicious utilization of the funds.”

She added saying that “According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the country now has four hundred and forty-two (442) confirmed cases as at the time of this statement. However, one hundred and fifty-two (152) were discharged having recovered with thirteen (13) fatalities. At the global level, there are two million, one hundred and fifty-nine thousand, four hundred and fifty (2,159,450) confirmed cases, five hundred and forty-nine thousand, five hundred and ninety-two (549,592) recovered with one hundred and forty-five thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight (145, 568) fatalities. This puts Nigeria at the 97th position globally out of 204 countries reported by the World Health Organisation., Once again, we say that this is a sobering moment globally especially for Nigeria as a country and her citizens.

“We all need to cooperate to defeat this virus.

CTA will advise citizens to continue to;  Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Maintain at least one & half metres (5 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Persons with persistent cough or sneezing should stay home or keep a social distance, but not mix in-crowd. Practice social distancing. Minimize public meetings. Stay home if you feel unwell with symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. Practice self-isolation.  Use the period of the lockdown to learn something new online and do more bonding with loved ones.

“Centre for Transparency Advocacy sympathises with families who have lost loved ones, those who have contracted the disease and wish them quick recovery.

“CTA calls on government at all levels and citizens to be vigilant and collectively, we shall fight this scourge.”

Vanguard

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