In continuation of monitoring of the handling of COVID-19 pandemic in Akwa Ibom State by government, the Monitoring Committee of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Akwa Ibom State Branch, hereby presents the Weekly Report/Press Statement on the situation.
This Report covers the week ending Friday, 15th May, 2020;
- Ban on Religious Gathering:
CLO is aware of the arguments calling on the State government to relax the ban on religious gatherings in the State.
CLO understands the pressure government may be going through from religious leaders and adherents. However, CLO is of the view that the opinions of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), which are experts in pandemic management should be adhered to.
CLO urges the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other religious groups to call their members to order and ensure compliance to government directives on the ban on public gathering in the State till further notice.
2. Relaxation of Lockdown:
CLO observes that there has been a high level of compliance by the citizens on the curfew imposed by the state government, which took effect from Monday, 4th May, 2020. CLO commends the citizens for their compliance and the security agents for their patriotism in enforcing the curfew even under extreme weather conditions.
However, CLO urges security agents to be mindful of the rights of citizens while implementing the curfew and to refrain from any tendency towards torture and extortion of citizens and residents.
3. Prohibition of Inter-State Movements:
CLO is alarmed that there still exist inter-state movements to and fro the State. For instance, CLO observed that two ad-hoc motor parks have been established at either ends of the Itu-Odukpani-Bridge – one at the Itu, Akwa Ibom State end of the Bridge and the other at the Odukpani, Cross River State end of the Bridge. Commuters from the Itu end disembark, trek across the bridge, apparently, after compromising security agents and board other vehicles at the Odukpani end of the bridge.
CLO is aware of similar porosity at other entry and exit points into and out of Akwa Ibom State. Since the virus is transmitted by persons rather than vehicles, CLO urges that emphasis should be on the restriction of persons and not just vehicles moving into or out of the State.
CLO is worried that a large number of the persons moving across the State into other States claim to be traders on food items. To this end, CLO urges government to devise foolproof means to identify genuine traders on essential duties.
4. Ban on Importation of Livestock:
CLO wishes to commend the State government on the ban on importation of livestock into the State. This measure will go a long way to curb importation of the virus through infected persons under the guise of transportation of livestock from other States into Akwa Ibom State.
5. Interception of Corpses:
CLO applauds the government on its surveillance in our borders that led to interception of corpses in Onna and Ika local governments. CLO urges security agents to continue to be more vigilant including and to involve the local vigilante services in our border communities.
6. Ban on Burials:
CLO reiterates its call on the State government to lift the ban on burials in the State in order to allow owners of corpses in the mortuaries to take them for burials. CLO observes that mortuaries in the State are filled up with corpses of persons who died under circumstances not related to COVID-19.
CLO urges the State government to give a directive that burials can hold under strict conditions in line with the World Health Organization and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s protocols of personal hygiene, social distancing, use of face masks, and may not have more than either 10 or 20 persons in attendance.
7. Visit to Isolation Centre, Ituk Mbang:
CLO had on Friday, 8th May, 2020, visited the site of ongoing construction of the Isolation Centre at the Methodist Hospital, Ituk Mbang, Uruan local government being embarked upon by the State government.
CLO observed that the project is at an advanced stage of completion. CLO endorses the resolve of the State government to build a permanent infectious diseases Isolation Centre for the state instead of setting up temporary centres with taxpayers monies.
CLO urges that the Isolation Centre should be run with a post-COVID-19 era sustainability plan, which implies that the Isolation Centre should be run independent of the Methodist Hospital in terms of budgets, administration and control.
8. Visit to University of Uyo Teaching Hospital Isolation Centre:
On Wednesday, 13th May, 2020, CLO visited the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital Isolation/ Treatment Centre. The Isolation Centre is a one storey building with 24 furnished rooms, 4 suites, a medical store, a two-bed Intensive Centre Unit (ICU), with two ventilators, a semi-laboratories and other support facilities.
The Isolation Centre is developed by the UUTH in partnership with the Akwa Ibom State government on what used to be the amenity block of the UUTH. Each of the room is furnished with a television set, a refrigerator, a bathroom, a toilet and other support facilities. CLO calls for more funds and supports from the State and Federal government and her agencies for the UUTH.
CLO also calls on multinational oil companies operating within the shores of Akwa Ibom State and public spirited individuals to support the UUTH with funds to enable the management run the Isolation Centre in line with world best standard.
Members of the CLO Special Monitoring Committee are:
- Comrade Nsemeke Udoakpan – Chairman
- Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo – Secretary
- Comrade (Barr.) Inibehe Effiong – Member
- Comrade (Barr.) Eyibio Okon – Member
- Rev. Fr. Cletus Etim – Member
- Rev. David Essien – Member
- Comrade Idorenyin Sampson – Member
Comrade Nsemeke Udoakpan (Chairman, CLO Special Monitoring Committee)
Comrade (Barr.) Christopher Ekpo (Secretary, CLO Special Monitoring Committee)
Otuekong Franklyn Isong
(Chairman, CLO Akwa Ibom State)
DATED: Friday, 15th May, 2020