Enugu Community raises alarm over attempt by CP to stop New Yam festival

By Dennis Agbo, ENUGU

The people of Umuanaekeodo family in Ibagwa Nike Community in Enugu East local government area of Enugu State have cried out over an attempt by the traditional ruler of the community, HRH Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu to use the state commissioner of police and his officers to stop their planned New Yam Festival.

The villagers specifically accused the commissioner of police, Abubakar Lawal and the divisional police officer in charge of Unity Police Division, one SP Eze as individuals abusing their offices and intimating the people and willfully disobeying an order and judgement of an Enugu State High Court.

Addressing newsmen in Enugu, chairman and board of trustees of the village, Iky Ngwu, accused the CP of using anti-robbery unit of the state police command to detain the leaders of the community to fulfill his agreement with Igwe Ugwu despite a subsisting court order.

“The use of Enugu State police commissioner, Abubakar Lawal and the divisional police officer in charge of Unity Police Division, one SP Eze by Igwe Emmanuel Ugwu of Ibagwa Nike to stop the entire Umuanaekeodo and the greater Ibagwa Nike community from celebrating their New Yam festival despite judgement and order of the Court of Appeal.

“The police commissioner has decided to use anti-robbery unit of the state police command to detain the leaders of the community to fulfill his agreement with Igwe Ugwu despite a subsisting court order.

“Invitation was issued to the leaders of the family by SP Nnamdi Okereke, officer in charge Anti–robbery section on Saturday August 20, 2022 by 12. noon. The matter was reported to the IGP in Abuja on Friday and the Police Service Commission of the role of the Enugu State police commissioner,” Ngwu said.

The state Commissioner of Police, Lawal, said that the petitioners have an issue with the state Criminal and Investigation Department, CID, which the police needs to deal with.

Also, Igwe Ugwu said that there was perpetual court court injunction against the individuals holding a community festival.

Ugwu noted that if it was an individual feast, there would be no problem but that the community had celebrated New Yam Festival in the year, adding that the petitioners were causing crisis in the Community.

The United States of America Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (USCDC), has sent a delegation to Nigeria to learn capacity building for global health security.

The American team will also understudy Nigeria’s disease detection, preparedness and response.

The Director of Global Health Advocacy, United Nations Foundation, Mr Brian Massa, led the delegation to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), National Reference Laboratory (NRL), on Friday in Abuja,

According to Massa, the delegation was on a learning visit to Nigeria.

“We are here at the NRL to learn about the great work that the Nigerian government is doing with capacity building for global health security, disease detection, preparedness and response.

“Nigeria is in line with the IHR core capacities required to detect, assess, notify and respond to public health risks and emergencies.

”This is as stipulated in Articles five and 13, and Annex one, of the Regulations,” he said.

Massa said that the delegation observed the laboratory diagnostic facilities, and discussed the importance of resilient health systems.

He added that the integration and data-sharing of country-wide disease detection, and the country’s response to the current Monkeypox outbreak were also studied.

“This visit will further develop the roster of congressional staffers who work on global health policy.

”It will help them to understand how bilateral Global Health Security investments in the country have strengthened global health security and pandemic preparedness,” he said.

According to him, it is s a great partnership between the Nigerian government and the United States government.

“The USCDC has provided very generous and important support on collaboration with the NCDC to provide training, technical capacity building and to be able to detect diseases early.

“Through partnerships with the NCDC, the USCDC is improving the quality of critical public health services in the country,” he said.

According to the Director-General, NCDC, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, the NRL in Abuja is the organisation’s focal laboratory.

Adetifa said that the laboratory provides High-Quality Public Health Laboratory Services, coordinates laboratory-based surveillance and provides oversight to state public health laboratories.

He said that the American government, through the USCDC and implementing partners had supported the agency with laboratory equipment, consumables, reagents and technical support.

“Over the last several years, the American Congress, supported by the UN Foundation, had organised congressional learning trips to observe global health.

”The Congress also organised trips to UN peacekeeping, humanitarian, and development operations across the globe, highlighting the US- UN partnership in the field,” he said.

The NCDC boss said that the US delegation included staffers and principal aides of US senators and members of the House of Congress with a task in health services, global health or health security.

“So they are here on behalf of their principals, because within their principals’ offices, they handle health-related or global health issues.

“Visits like this provide us with an opportunity to lay out areas that we may require support, either directly by what we say or indirectly by what they see,” he said.

Adetifa, however, said that questions about the country’s preparedness for a future pandemic were difficult to answer while highlighting lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the question about whether people are prepared for pandemics or not is a difficult one to answer.

“We had a ranking of countries that were supposedly in a better place to deal with pandemics, but COVID-19 came and showed us that the ranking was irrelevant.

“However, the message I take away from the ranking is that it shows the importance of having resilient health systems.

” So, after everybody was confronted by COVID-19, we all sort of collapsed. But, then, we can see how systems are recovering,” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative, Dr Kofi Boateng, said that there have been significant improvements in the country’s laboratories which is a critical area of health security.

Boating said that the country could detect, assess, report, and respond to public health events, which is the core capability of IHR.

He, however, said that as the COVID-19 pandemic had shown, investing in preparedness is much cheaper and more effective than funding responses.

He pledged WHO’s continuous support to the country.

According to him, ”investment in preparation must be founded on continuous community engagement, coordination between sectors, and sensitive and flexible surveillance and response systems.”

The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that US has been a longstanding global health security leader.

In 2014, the US helped launch Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats.

Now, more than 70 countries, international organisations, NGOs and private sector entities, were united in strengthening global health security.

They have a target of strengthening country capacities by 2024 for 100 countries in at least five specific technical areas.

GHSA emphasises the importance of efforts to build national capacity to prepare for biological catastrophes.

These include human and animal health, agriculture, security, defence, law enforcement, development assistance, foreign affairs, and finance.

In 2018, GHSA members renewed the

the initial five-year phase of action (2014-2019) for a second five-year phase (2019-2024), known as “GHSA 2024.”

GHSA 2024 works to accelerate the implementation of and compliance with the IHR (2005), a legally binding instrument adopted by 196 countries, including the 194 World WHO member’states.

It is meant to strengthen country-level capabilities needed to prevent, detect, and respond to health emergencies.

The United States is fully dedicated to assisting countries around the world to improve health security capacities and meet the 2024 target.

It uses the globally- endorsed IHR Monitoring and Evaluation Framework (MEF) and the Joint External Evaluation (JEE).

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