By Boluwaji Obahopo – Lokoja
The Chief Imam of Kabba, Shiek Ahmed Ejibunu who along with his son was declared as the COVID-19 index case for Kogi State two weeks ago was never treated for the coronavirus disease at the National Hospital, Abuja, Vanguard had gathered.
Rather, the Chief Imam who was discharged last Friday was treated for diabetes and other ailments while the son was not even put on bed rest but was running errands for the sick father.
While the ding-dong between the Kogi State government and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC continue over the free status of the state, the centre on May 27 recorded two cases for the state; with the Chief Imam and his son named.
But speaking on Monday with newsmen, the state Commissioner for Information and Communication, Mr Kingsley Fanwo said the state swung into action immediately the Chief Imam was discharged to ascertain the true nature of his sickness only to find out that he was never treated for the Coronavirus.
According to Fanwo, “We called this Press Conference to bring you up to speed on the Covid-19 situation in Kogi State and to further clear the air on our disagreements on some facts and principles with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) over their management of alleged CoviD-19 patients in Kogi State.
“It is no more news that the NCDC declared two COVID-19 cases for Kogi State on the 27th of May, 2020 in circumstances which the Kogi State Government found herself unable to accept as transparent. It has now gone ahead to build on that false foundation by declaring one more case for the State last week, for a total score of 3.
“The respected Chief Imam of Kabba, Sheik Abubakar Ahmad Ejibunu who is in his early 60s along with one of his sons were the purported index cases from Kogi State declared on May 27, 2020 by NCDC. They were whisked to Abuja from Lokoja on the said day and declared Covid-19 positive a few hours later.
“After 9 days in her custody, the NCDC discharged the Chief Imam on Saturday June 6th, 2020 and upon his return home, he was extensively debriefed by us with a view to ensuring that any lingering public health implications of his case are identified and resolved.
“We were however shocked to discover that his experiences in the hands of the NCDC are far from everything that Nigerians have been told constitute best practices in a COVID-19 situation, especially its pathogenesis and management.
“The Chief Imam, an upright and outstanding man who is only interested in the truth confirmed what we have known all along. He said that he did not test positive for COVID-19 and received no result of such a diagnosis, neither did his doctors at the National Hospital, Abuja where he was confined advise him of it.
“The cleric maintains that he suffered from nothing beyond complications from an attack by bees, medical conditions which pre-date the COVID-19 pandemic and stress from travels associated with his work. Till he was released yesterday, he was held in conditions which allowed him to interact with visitors.
“The son’s case is even more strange as he has a negative test result to confirm that he is Covid-19 free. Ditto all his siblings who were tested in the days following as the NCDC serially sought an off-taker for the second Covid-19 case which they had earlier foisted on Kogi State.
“Throughout his father’s time in the custody of the NCDC, and in keeping with his Covid-19 negative status, the son remained at liberty and was his father’s primary helper. He was never hospitalised and was allowed to go home each day and return the next.
“He was allowed to mingle freely with family, visitors, hospital staff, and others. Yet, till this day, he remains the second case of COVID-19 allocated to Kogi State on the NCDC’s scoreboard.
“You all will recall that despite our disagreement with the NCDC’s conduct in the entire circumstances of this case, we moved rapidly and ensured that every member of the Chief Imam’s family, as well as his direct contacts, were traced and tested within hours of the NCDC announcement on May 27. They all tested negative.
“We also declared a total lockdown of his Local Government Area, Kabba-Bunu, and carried out thorough contact tracing and surveillance activities involving active case search, with SARS-COV2 tests duly conducted and completed. Again, we found nothing to warrant a protracted lockdown which is why His Excellency, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State lifted it after only 4 days.
“The alleged 3rd Case of Covid-19 credited to Kogi State by the NCDC is shaping up to be another exercise in secrecy and unverifiable processes by the NCDC. Nearly one week after she was sneaked onto the NCDC’s list, the Kogi State Government is yet to be armed with the actionable information she needs to take preemptive actions in line with the Covid-19 guidelines.
“We suspect that NCDC’s lackadaisical attitude may not be unconnected with the knowledge that no infection has been found. Just like in the case of the Chief Imam and his family, let it be known that we are looking out for our citizen and will demand full reckoning should any harm come to her”.
Fanwo said the state decided to speak with the chief Imam because of the negative implications the NCDC actions and had brought on the state, maintained the state is Covid19 free.
“We make it clear once again that there is no case of Covid-19 in Kogi State. If ever there is, we will be the first to announce it while deploying all recommended protocols and procedures.
“Our people can rest assured that we will continue to work extra hard to make sure that this increasingly controversial disease does not come into our state. We have been in a state of advanced readiness since the early days of this pandemic. Our isolation centres remain unoccupied, we have thousands of Rapid Test Kits available and we recently acquired a mobile molecular laboratory which will arrive at the state any moment now.
“Global research on the novel coronavirus or SARS-COV2 has caused guidelines on Covid-19 to change with confusing rapidity and Nigerians must hold the NCDC to higher standards of responsiveness and responsibility to make sure that we do not sacrifice the nation itself on the altar of mere notions about the disease.”
The Commissioner, however, took spite at the Federal Medical Centre Lokoja, said just like other Federal Medical centres in Nigeria, they are collaborating with the disease centre to ‘fill up figures on the Covid19 NCDC scoreboard”.