Covid-19 Index Case – Confusion as Benue Deputy Governor Asks Questions.
Following the flurry of uninformed negative criticisms of the Benue State government concerning the state COVID-19 index case, Susan Okpe, state deputy governor and chairman, Benue State Action Committee on COVID-19, Engr Benson Abounu has reacted with a strong denial of the state complicity in her ordeal.
Speaking on a Channels TV current affairs programme “”Updates on COVID-19”, Engr Abounu said it was wrong for Mrs Idoko or anyone else to blame the Benue State government for her ordeal, explaining that whereas the government did all within its powers to attend to her medical needs in accordance with the protocols of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on COVID-19, Mrs Idoko flagrantly refused to cooperate with the medical team and rejected any form of treatment. Rather, she took to the social media, with videos attacking the state government and making herself look like a victim of a grand conspiracy.
EXCERPT OF THE INTERVIEW
QUESTION:- The case of Benue State index case, Mrs Susan Idoko has stirred a lot of controversy with her accusing the Benue State and federal government of holding her in captivity even though she says, she is not positive. She has been moved to Abuja and is now under Federal care. So what was Benue state role in all of these? Where did Benue state come into the picture at all?
ANSWER:- Am really taken aback as to why Benue state should be blamed by Mrs Idoko in her ordeal, but before I explain, let me say one or two things about myself. I am a knight of John Wesley in Methodist Church, Nigeria. I am an engineer by training; that makes me an exact scientist – we don’t lie. I am from the same constituency with Mrs Idoko, she’s idoma and I am idoma even though In my office, am supposed to be fair to all Benue state people, it is incumbent on me politically to defend Mrs Idoko should her rights be infringed upon. Finally, my immediate predecessor in Office (the man I took over) is Mrs Idoko’s elder brother with whom am very very close and I will do anything to protect him and indeed wouldn’t want any harm come close to his family. So everything am going to talk about now is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Now on Tuesday the 24th of March I took over as the Chairman of Benue State Action Committee on COVID-19. On Wednesday the 25th, I was briefed about all the issues of COVID-19 infection in Benue State and it was during this briefing that I was made to understand that there were two cases of people they suspected of having COVID-19; one of which was Mrs Idoko.
Going by the protocol of NCDC, I gave instructions that her sample and the sample of another young man be taken and sent to Abuja.
On Thursday been 25th the samples were taken and sent to Abuja. On Saturday the 28th, the results came, the young man was negative but Mrs Idoko was positive.
It took seven hours of serious negotiations with her for her to move to the isolation centre. It didn’t stop there, I called the elder brother who is the immediate past deputy Governor of Benue State to counsel her. She was on the phone with him for three times. I got another brother of hers, a Vet doctor to discuss with her, to plead with her. Then, finally by 7 o’clock in the evening, I went over to the hospital she reported herself into, from where they were made to understand she just came from the U.K and was exhibiting some symptoms which was related to COVID-19. So at the end of the day, I was with her for 24 minutes in the presence of her younger sister who works with a bank in Makurdi and I pleaded and pleaded. Then I called the elder brother again to talk to her even while I was there and it was only then she was convinced and she willingly went into our isolation center at the Benue State University Teaching hospital. I told her that day that, to me as a lay man, she was looking very okay and I said, ”Doctor it was unfair for her not to see the result” because she said she never saw the result. I asked the doctor to bring the result which he did and I showed it to her and asked her if she has seen it and she said YES but that she do not agree with the result because she was not feeling unwell. This was what she said. It is not true if she said she didn’t see the result because I was there when the result was shown to her. At the end of the day I told her that on Monday I was going to come myself to make sure her sample was taken again because I asked the doctor and the doctor said her temperature has come down to normal the previous day and that she was not coughing again, so as a layman, I thought she was fairly okay.
On Monday morning, I went there myself at 10 o’clock. I was told she refused to be attended to by the medical team. I was in the corridor and she came to the door and the moment she saw me, she started insulting me, she said I was a liar, that I said I was going to come on Sunday but I didn’t and I told her NO, I didn’t say Sunday because Sunday isn’t a working day but Monday and am here been Monday and I pleaded with her for her sample to be taken to Abuja but she refused.
QUESTION:- Now that the Federal health minister has confirmed that they are going to redo the test she has given the sample and they are going to redo the test and they are waiting the result does that lay this seeming controversy to rest for the Benue State and for the Benue State government.
ANSWER:- I am very sorry but let me tell you this: by today, according to Mrs Idoko, she has been in isolation center for 51 days. Out of these 51 days, she spent only five days in our isolation center and so whatever happened, I don’t know why it is Benue’s fault. Benue has no testing centre. Benue didn’t test her. It was the NCDC that tested her and found her to be positive. When she insisted she didn’t want to be treated in Makurdi, I made a request by text message to the Honourable minister of Health. The minister replied. I discussed with him and he spoke with her two consecutive days. So when she insisted she wanted to be moved to Abuja, I requested the Honourable minister to do so and that was why she was moved on the 2nd April after five nights in our isolation center. Since then, she has been in isolation center at the National Hospital in Abuja. So for God sake WHERE IS THE FAULT OF BENUE STATE?