COVID-19 in Ondo: Call your officers to order —Akeredolu tells IGP, Service Chiefs

By: Ade Adeleke

Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state has called on the Inspector General of Police, the Service chiefs of the Nigerian Armed Forces as well as the authorities of other security agencies, to streamline and monitor the movement and operations of their men as part of measures to prevent further spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country.

Already, three security agents including two policemen and one military officer were among the eight COVID-19 cases in ondo state, hence the call by the governor to advise the IGP and other security heads to monitor activities of their men especially in the state.

Akeredolu stated this today while addressing newsmen at Government House Ground, Alagbaka-Akure.

The governor also challenged them to enforce stricter compliance of their agents to their Operational Orders and the same regulations they are enforcing on all Nigerians.

Below is the full text of the governor’s Speech;

BEING AN ADDRESS BY THE GOVERNOR OF ONDO STATE ARAKUNRIN OLUWAROTIMI O. AKEREDOLU SAN ON THE SURGE IN THE NUMBER OF COVID – 19 CASES IN ONDO STATE, ON MONDAY 27TH APRIL, 2020 AT THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE GROUNDS, ALAGBAKA, AKURE.

1. As you are aware, Ondo State recorded five more Cases of Covid-19 infection over the weekend. The fourth and fifth Cases occurred on Saturday while the sixth, seventh and eighth Cases were discovered yesterday, Sunday.

2. The fourth and fifth Cases were clear evidence of panic, disobedience, lack of discretion and reckless disregard for the well being of others, while the sixth, seventh and eighth Cases were regrettable Cases of community transmission whose presence in our State were by default.

3. For purpose of clarity and for clear understanding of the facts of the matter by members of the public, the fourth and fifth Cases are officers of the Nigerian Police Force, serving under the Lagos State Police Command while the sixth case is a murder suspect who was arrested in Edo State and transferred to Ondo State for trial of crime earlier committed in Ondo State. The seventh case was a female civilian who sneaked into the State from Abuja.

4. Meanwhile the eighth case was discovered in Owo and samples taken were confirmed positive late last night.

5. The fourth case, the policeman, resident in Lagos, upon noticing symptoms of the viral infection, reported at the National Testing Centre, Yaba, Lagos for medical review on Monday 20th April 2020. Accordingly, his samples were taken while he was told to await his result and further directives in line with established protocols.

6. On Wednesday 22nd April 2020, exactly two days after the samples were taken, the case, without concluding the test processes and without any medical clearance proceeded on an unfortunate journey to Akure where his family is based.

This journey was unnecessary, ill-advised and a total disregard for the national regulation which forbids interstate movement. It is even more defiant because it violates the total lockdown imposed on Lagos by the Federal Government and the ban on inter-State border movement imposed by Governments of the South West States.

7. He arrived Akure on Wednesday and reportedly kept the night in a colleague’s place. On Thursday, the case, as promised, got a message from the National Testing Centre, Yaba, Lagos confirming his sample as having tested positive.

8. The expectation was that he would make himself available at once for immediate isolation and further treatment at the Lagos State Government designated facilities. He did not make himself available for such as he was already in Akure.

9. The implication of this was that a man infected with Covid -19 in Lagos and who was expected to be in Lagos for treatment had entered Ondo State and had spent a day.

10. The case broke through all restrictions and border controls and returned to Lagos late Thursday. He claimed to have called the health authorities to fetch him for quarantine and treatment.

He did not wait to be picked up by authorities nor exerted conscious efforts to reach the designated facilities. Rather and surprisingly, the suspect, in company of another policeman returned to Akure on Saturday without receiving the medical attention for which he claimed to have gone to Lagos.

11. Upon arrival in Akure on Saturday, his health status was discovered and was brought to the attention of our response team. He was immediately taken and placed on admission at our Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) where he is currently undergoing treatment.

12. It is important to State that the other officer with whom he came from Lagos has also been quarantined in our Infectious Diseases Hospital here in Akure, having earlier tested positive in Lagos.

13. The sixth case is a murder suspect facing trial for a crime earlier committed in Ondo State last year. He was arrested in Edo State this month and brought to Ondo State for trial. Following the established protocol, the suspect was tested for the infection and the result returned yesterday as positive.

14. The Commissioner of Police and the Controller of the Nigerian Correctional Services have become aware of this and the state has made arrangements to take care of them.

15. The seventh case is a woman who arrived Akure from Abuja despite the extant Federal and State Government travel lockdown order. Luckily for the State, her vigilant landlord in Akure, in total obedience to Government’s regulations, refused her entry into the residence facilities. He immediately contacted relevant authorities. The woman was immediately acquired and samples taken immediately. The test result obtained yesterday indicated she is also positive to Covid – 19 infection. It is another case of intransigence and disobedience.

16. The eighth confirmed case is a female who was admitted at the FMC Owo with symptoms suggestive of Covid -19. She was tested on the 25th April 2020 and the test returned positive.

17. In order to curtail a further spread of the infection through these Cases, I have directed the activation of a wider processes to trace, isolate and test all primary and secondary contacts with all the Cases while at large in the State.

18. The brief movement of all the Cases as stated above shows what will happen if we fail to obey simple rules and regulations carefully crafted to save and preserve our lives. It is particularly saddening that these are taking place at a time Government is escalating action to prevent such occurrences.

19. I wish to draw our attention to three things that are worthy of note in these current situations.

I. Our borders are still porous and heavily compromised.

II. Our security agents, who ought to enforce Government’s restriction order are themselves accomplices who abuse the trust placed in them at this critical time.

III. Members of the public, upon witnessing this massive compromise by law enforcement agents and other Government officials, are thereby encouraged to defy the safety regulations and persist in error.

20. In any and all of these scenarios, we are the losers. The level of threat and risk to our lives and those of our loved ones are heightened. We must do something to prevent these unfortunate and absolutely avoidable experiences.

21. In this regard, I therefore wish to call on the Inspector General of Police, the Service chiefs of the Nigerian Armed Forces as well as the authorities of other security agencies, to streamline and monitor the movement and operations of their men at this time, to prevent needless, avoidable and unfortunate occurrences like this in the future. I also challenge them to enforce stricter compliance of their agents to their Operational Orders and the same regulations they are enforcing on all Nigerians.

22. I believe there can be no corruption or malfeasance higher than any act of wilful compromise that threaten lives, peaceful existence, well-being and sustainability of our society.

23. My dear people of Ondo State, the pandemic of Covid – 19 is a siege on the world. Our nation is not immune to it. The records of its expansion are escalating each day.

24. In the last one week, the number of Cases has increased at an alarming rate. From 665 confirmed Cases last Monday 20th, April 2020 to 981 last Wednesday 23rd April to 1,273 yesterday Sunday 26th April 2020. It is clear that we need a persistent vigour to prosecute a successful battle against this deadly virus across the nation.

25. The Nigerian Governor’s Forum has consistently reviewed the trends and patterns among the 36 States. We are seriously worried about the implications of the existing measures on the self-preservation, well-being and prosperity of our people. We are resolute to work assiduously with the Federal Government to return our country to the path of social stability, active economy and self-confidence for all citizens and residents.

26. To this end, we have made some recommendations to Mr President to ensure a unified and productive approach to managing this crisis. Governments in all the states need the cooperation and adherence of all citizens to the response protocols to achieve a winning formula for all and sundry.

27. May I therefore urge every resident of Ondo State, to improve on compliance with the precautionary regulations against Covid-19 as pronounced by Government. While we are not unaware of the disruptions and inconveniences occasioned by these regulations, we request the highest level of citizen responsibility, particularly as we face the serious risk of community transmission.

28. In specific terms, I ask you, my people of Ondo State to be:

• more vigilant about existing neighbours and new faces around you;

• observe the State of health of fellow citizens, with particular attention to the established symptoms of Covid-19;

• report any reasonable suspicion to appropriate authorities or special tolls free numbers dedicated for rapid response;

• encourage one another to be bold and report strange changes in personal health status to the authorities;

• obey the restriction orders and all social and physical distancing regulations;

• stay indoors and observe the regular hand washing and other hygiene protocols;

• wear face mask in any case of interaction with the public outside your homes.

29. Our experience before the new Cases at the weekend showed that if we work together, we could defeat the Covid-19 and save our own lives. Recall that before Saturday, Ondo State had just only two confirmed Cases remaining at the Infectious Diseases Hospital. While the index case had tested negative and had since been released, the second case has also tested negative for the second time and has been released accordingly.

30. The last case was the doctor who treated the index case. He has also tested negative after treatment and we are only waiting for the result of the second test to know if he will be discharged.

31. Already, the mass production and free distribution of facemask by Government has commenced and is gaining traction satisfactorily. I am confident that in a matter of days, all the critical sectors of our society will have been covered.

32. I have also been briefed of efforts of public spirited individuals who have also been providing and distributing face masks and food items as palliatives to the public, particularly the people in the vulnerable category. Government notes such charitable efforts with satisfaction and expresses its gratitude to every individual and body captured in this category.

33. Let me State clearly that Covid-19 is not a pronouncement of death if we work together and respect the laid down protocols. Indeed, on this matter, we have a choice to make. To endure some temporary difficulties and stay alive or to ignore caution and perish. The Ondo State Government chose the former and will do everything to protect the lives of all. What we need is your cooperation and understanding.

34. Finally let me again thank all our health workers, the media and other stakeholders for the great sacrifice and dedication.

I sincerely pray that God almighty will see us through these challenging times.

35. Thank you all and I wish you a great week ahead.

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