Lagos State government and the Federal government have disagreed of the actual figure of victims of Ebola Virus.
At a press conference in Lagos, Wednesday, the State’s Health Commissioner, Jide Idris, told journalists that five new suspected Ebola virus cases were brought to the isolation ward of the Yaba Mainland Hospital in Lagos on Tuesday.
Idris added that two of those five cases were from secondary contacts linked to the Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, who brought the virus to Nigeria.
“Till date, we have recorded eight suspected cases, five of which came in yesterday (Tuesday), 12 confirmed,” said Idris.
“On the whole, five have died (including the index case). We are currently following up 213 contacts, and 62 have completed the two-day follow-up.”
But barely two hours after the press conference had ended, the Minister of Helath, Onyebuchi Chukwu, issued a terse statement telling the public to “disregard” Idris’ figures.
“The Honourable Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, wishes to reiterate that at present, Nigeria has only two confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease,” Chukwu said in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Communication Dan Nwomeh
“This clarification follows media reports of five new cases in Lagos State. This report should be disregarded. The minister reiterates that any doubtful information on the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria should be verified from the Office of the Honourable Minister of Health who has the sole authority to announce confirmed cases as far as disease epidemics in Nigeria are concerned.
“The minister further reassures the public that any new confirmed case of Ebola Virus Disease will be announced by his office promptly. However, as of 7pm today (Wednesday), there is no other confirmed Ebola Virus Disease case in Nigeria outside the two that are currently under treatment at the isolation ward in Lagos.”
Since the first case of the Ebola Virus Disease was recorded in Lagos in July, the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government have continually issued discordant statements and contradictory figures on government’s efforts, casualties and suspected cases.
At a press conference, last Friday, Idris denied receiving a “penny” from the Federal Government one week after President Goodluck Jonathan had announced the “immediate” release of a N1.9 billion Special Intervention Fund to strengthen the on-going steps to contain the spread of the Ebola virus.
“This effort is a collaborative effort between the Lagos State Government and the federal officials and their partners. As far as I know, the Federal Government has been very good in providing technical support, technical support, especially through the consultant partners,” Mr. Idris said at a press conference.
“But again we are grateful for all they have been doing to provide technical support, so many of their staff are working with us in contact tracing, case management, and they are part of the emergency response centre.”
The Lagos State health commissioner also denied the arrival to the state of the first batch of the Nano Silver experimental drug, even after the minister had earlier announced the delivery of the drug.
But it was the commissioner’s comment on the non-receipt of any part of the N1.9 billion that dominated news headlines throughout last weekend, apparently embarrassing the Federal Government.
At Wednesday’s press briefing, Idris was very careful with his choice of words.
When a journalist pressed him on why the Federal Government allowed passage to a sick Sawyer despite the minister’s pronouncement weeks ago that Nigeria was prepared for the virus, Idris cleverly evaded the question.
“Well, I’m answering your question… I’m not going into a debate on that. I think… let’s move forward…,” he said.
But the Commissioner for Special Duties, Wale Ahmed took the microphone from him, and appealed to journalists to refrain from asking questions that could breed disagreement.
“Excuse me, if you permit me to say this, I believe those of us representing Lagos State Government on this issue and you gentlemen of the press, I believe we are partners in trying to educate the public on this matter,” Ahmed said.
“I would rather suggest we focus more on issues that will bring information to the public regarding their safety and what we are doing. Issues that may border on things that will look like inquisition and questions that will be asked if a commission of enquiry were to be set up, I think we should avoid those questions now.”
This latest disagreement is not the first time signs of a animosity between both levels of government have been apparent, especially during emergency situations.
In July, 2013, an official of the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), a Federal Government agency, accused a Lagos State commissioner of chasing him out of a collapsed building site in Surulere, Lagos.
“NEMA (was) chased out of rescue site by Lagos Commissioner for Special Duties after we have rescued 3 alive and 4 dead. He said he will ask his people to deal with us if we are not careful,” Farinloye said.
Farinloye said he was granting an interview to a Nigeria Television Authority reporter when Mr. Ahmed, who arrived alongside the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), threatened to send the Rapid Response Squad after him.
“I contacted headquarters and they said I should leave for peace to reign,” Mr. Farinloye had said.
However, when contacted, Ahmed had said that it was not true.
“I only told him it was quite premature to start granting interview when we were yet to know what was still under the rubble,” he said.
GoG: Nigerian, Ghanaian Navies Meet On Joint Operations
Against the backdrop of renewed piracy and hostage-taking incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and his Ghanaian counterpart, Rear Admiral Issah Adam Yakubu, have commenced a security engagement aimed at joint security initiatives to tackle the situation.
Speaking during the meeting held at Naval headquarters, Abuja, Vice Admiral Gambo said, “The Gulf of Guinea is currently bedevilled by the activities of criminal elements who take advantage of limited capability of the navies in the region to adequately secure the area.
“The threat posed by the activities of these criminal elements constitute a major challenge not only to the littoral states but equally undermines regional development and global trade.
“Notably, the trans-boundary and trans-national nature of maritime crime makes the security of the maritime domain a task beyond the capacity of any country acting alone.
“It is against this backdrop that this bilateral engagement was convened at the instance of the Heads of Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Republic of Ghana towards addressing the maritime security challenges within the region”.
Vice Admiral Gambo expressed belief that “the engagement would foster greater collaboration and burden sharing that is hinged on cooperative maritime security framework as envisioned in the 2013 Yaoundé Protocol to arrive at strategies that would help address the maritime insecurity for enhanced economic prosperity in the region”.
Declaring the technical session open, the CNS said, “In deliberations, please consider amongst others: maritime area of interest covering Zone E and integration of the capabilities of the countries in Zone E, emplacing a robust intelligence sharing mechanism and collaboration with international partners”.
On relations between both countries, Gambo said, “This good relation is equally manifest in the several interactions between the Nigerian Navy and Ghana Navy. I must not fail to mention the remarkable contributions of the Ghana Navy-CNS to manpower development during his tour of duty at the prestigious AFCSC, Jaji as a member of the Directing Staff. I have no doubt that this engagement would further strengthen the existing cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Ghana navies.
In his address, Chief of Naval Staff of Ghana, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, noted that he and his delegation were in Nigeria at the behest of President Nana Akufo Ado to engage the Nigerian Navy and come out with collective strategies to tackle insecurity which is in the ascendancy in recent times in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We hope our navies will buy into this engagement to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea. We know our big brother Nigeria has bigger capacity to chart the way forward”.
He disclosed that, “Since year 2020, the situation has bot been good in the Gulf of Guinea”, noting that “Last May, two Ghanian vessels were attacked and 10 persons were abducted with investigations still ongoing”.
Consequently, the Ghanian Navy Chief said, “We are proposing an ECOWAS naval task force and joint maritime security architecture to checkmate these threats, adding that this was done in the past successfully during ECOMOG operations without problems with inter-operability and doctrinal issues.
Furthermore, he proposed the setting up of a ‘transit corridors’ where ships from fellow West African countries can go to anchor for assistance and joint naval assets will conduct regular patrols especially for protection of commercial fishing vessels.
Wike Orders Destruction Of Criminal Hideouts In Rivers
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has ordered the destruction of all criminal hideouts in Ahoada, Elele, Eleme and Onne to prevent attempt to undermine security of the state.
The governor said criminals were already coming to terms with the reality that Rivers State was too hot for them to invade at will and detonate their foolish attacks on targeted security posts and personnel.
Wike, who made this assertion in a state broadcast, last Friday, disclosed that the state government has identified the hideouts, safe houses and secret places that provide both cover and comfort for the hoodlums to plan, execute and return to after operations.
“This was the reason we ordered the destruction of all the shanties and makeshift structures located along Elele to Ahoada expanse of the East–West Road to deny the criminals the opportunity to continue to undermine our security from these hideouts.
“We have equally decided to destroy all the shanties, illegal shops and mechanic sheds along the Eleme to Onne stretch of the East-West Road having discovered these places also as hideouts and operational bases for criminals and criminal activities in the state.
“Consequently, I hereby direct owners of such shanties and illegal structures along the Eleme – Onne axis of the East-West Road to vacate the area within two weeks from June 11, 2021, as the state government will go ahead to destroy these structures without any further notice.”
Wike said the government was not unmindful of the economic effect these measures would have or may have had on residents carrying out businesses in the affected areas.
He, however, stressed that government was merely discharging its constitutional responsibility to advance the collective security of all with no ethnic targets in mind or attachment to political sentiments.
He explained that the existing curfew in Rivers State will not last one day beyond necessary, and pleaded with all residents to endure the temporary inconveniences in the interest of the state and collective wellbeing of all.
“We will continue to take the war on criminality and insecurity to the den of the criminals and we will neither yield nor lower the tempo of our assault until they are comprehensively neutralized. As a matter of fact, they want us to prematurely terminate the state wide night time curfew in order for them to have the leeway to operate again and roll back the gains of the last few weeks.”
Wike said he has received reports about the excesses of the State Task Force on Illegal Trading and Parks, especially the alleged shooting of motorists, extortions and abuse of the human rights of citizens.
He assured that government would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law on any member of the task force who crosses the boundaries of the law and rational behaviour.
The governor, who appealed to motorists and residents to be responsible road users by complying with the clear regulations against illegal trading, indiscriminate parking and irresponsible driving, noted that the situation where some motorists would have the effrontery to compete for traffic space with or even attempt to block his official vehicular convoy leaves much to be desired.
He has meanwhile, directed the management of the Rivers State Waste Management Authority to clear the state of filthiness within one week or be disbanded without any further notice.
Army Begins Shooting Exercises In Rivers
The Nigerian Army, 6 Division, has announced that it would commence its annual range classification exercise from yesterday to Sunday, June 27.
The division’s spokesman, Lt.-Col. Charles Ekeocha, said in a statement in Port Harcourt, that the exercise aimed at ascertaining the professional competence of troops on the use of firearms.
He said troops from the division and its affiliated formations and units would conduct the exercise at the Army Shooting Range in Igwuruta and Elele Barracks, both in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
“The shooting exercise is a routine activity in the Nigerian Army which involves the firing of various calibre live ammunitions.
“Members of the public, especially residents of Igwuruta and Elele, as well as its environs, are advised to keep away from the general shooting area,” he stated.
The Army spokesman also advised the public not to panic over the movement of troops, military hardware and sound of gunshots.
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