Any attempt to extend lockdown in Lagos without adequate palliatives, call for uprising — Rights activist

Posted by News Express | 11 April 2020 | 1,223 times

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•President Muhammadu Buhari

By SUNNY OKIM

A Lagos based Human Rights lawyer and public affairs analyst, Mr. Joe Nwokedi has warned that any extension of the total lockdown in Lagos State beyond the federal government's 14 days deadline, which elapses on Monday, April 13, 2020 will most likely create uncontrollable crisis and unrest in Lagos State.

The activist issued the warning through a statement on Friday, a copy of which was made available to News Express.

According to Nwokedi who is also the coordinator, Coalition of Lawyers For Good Governance (CLGG), the federal and Lagos State  governments are advised to device the safest and most acceptable people-oriented method to relax the total lock down order pronounced on Lagos State by the president or on the alternative, aggressively embark on far-reaching availability and distribution of palliative and relief materials to the people of the state, so that they will have enough to sustain them while they are compulsorily locked inside their homes.

Nwokedi noted that Section (14) (2) (B) of the 1999 constitution as amended, provides that "The security and welfare of the people of Nigeria shall be the primary purpose of the government''.

 He therefore wondered the time this necessity (Welfarism) is needed by the people of Nigeria from their government other than a pertinent, perilous and critical period that we are presently facing, which requires visible welfare presence and coherent attention and well defined action plan by the government to the people.

Nwokedi lamented that unfortunately and regrettably too, the government has totally negated in this obligation and thus failed the people for the fulfillment of this crucial constitutional requirement and responsibility now that it is of uttermost importance to the people.

“Lagos State was in a partial lockdown for a period of two weeks before the federal government, through the president, announced a total lockdown of another two weeks for the state, thus accumulating and aggregating to one month lockdown in Lagos State, without work and access to means of livelihood by good people of the state,” said Nwokedi.

Continuing he said, “While admitting that the coronavirus pandemic is a great threat to our existential health and life, requiring every needed measure to combat by the government, it is regrettable that the state and federal governments have failed in providing adequate palliatives and reliefs to the people which suppose to cushion the harsh effects of the government's good intention to curtail the spread of the pandemic, as is obtainable in other countries facing this same menace.”

This negligence on the part of government, according to him, has inadvertently exposed the people of Lagos State to the danger and ravaging menace of other diseases and untimely deaths resulting from acute hunger and unavailability of funds to procure and secure their essential needs.

“The inadequate provisions of the palliatives/relief materials to the people of the state to ensure their total compliance to the stay at home order will soon occasion great crisis and chaos in the state,” Nwokedi warned.

The lawyer equally pointed out as well as complained over high level of fraud and absence of transparency that are allegedly trailing the distribution of both the federal and state governments' palliatives to the people, which according to him, has no effect on the masses as a result of the alleged massive corruption, bias and nepotism that have characterised the sharing and distribution of the yet to be seen or felt insignificant palliatives by majority of Lagosians.

“I call on both Lagos State and federal governments to open up on the issue of Covid 19 in Nigeria by making available concise information about the virus, as everything concerning the virus is still shrouded in secrecy, suspicion and utmost controversy,” he further stated.

He lamented that till now the government is yet to tell the public how those that recovered from the virus survived it and the medication prescribed to them to achieve the success.

He said, “Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde who once tested positive to the dreaded virus but later survived it came to the open  to inform the public that he took Vitamin C, carrots and other traditional medications in order to be free from the dreaded virus. The assertion made by this reputable individual has not been admitted, controverted or rebutted by our government both at the state or federal levels, as to ascertain its veracity or otherwise, in such a way that the public will be more enlightened and properly and adequately guided about the issue of Covid 19.”

Nwokedi further opined that  rather than a continuous total lockdown in Lagos  State which has adversely and injuriously affected the means of livelihood of the people of the state, especially those surviving on daily income and petty jobs, which coincidentally constitute greater numbers of the people in the state, it will be more people-oriented and also serve a greater beneficial purpose for the government if they should embark on a well sensitized campaign on  the effective method of avoiding contact with the virus.

This, according to him, includes but not limited to constant washing of hands with soap or alcoholic substance, use of sanitizers, social distancing, use of masks, grooves and other effective measures. This prescription should be relentlessly promoted  and pursued by the both the state and federal governments to  ensure that they are diligently practiced and observed by the people, as a way to cure and curb the virus, than a total lockdown of all the means of survival of the people, without any visible assistance from the government.

The lawyer equally suggested that legislation should be put in place if there is none yet by the state government to deal with the offenders or contraveners of these rules or orders by the government when finally put in place.

The lawyer sternly warned that any extension of the lockdown in Lagos State without properly addressing the issue of intense hunger which the total lockdown has caused to the people of the state, will definitely result in great doom and uprising in the state that might overwhelm the powers and control of the security apparatus and any other state control/security mechanism.

 “A lot of people have been calling me to express their hopelessness, helplessness, haplessness, depression and impatience occasioned by acute hunger and frustration as a result of the total lockdown in the state without any assistance by the government and their eagerness and willingness to hit the street in massive protest, if the lockdown is extended without any far- reaching palliative measures to cushion the effects of it by the government.

“Some of them made it so clear that it will be more honourable for them to die bravely by the bullets of the police or army than to be killed slowly and shamefully by hunger,” Nwokedi stated.

In view of the above, the Human Rights lawyer and social crusader has deemed it appropriate and duty bound to call on and appeal to both the Federal and Lagos State governments to relax the lockdown once it elapses on Monday, April 13 or in the absence of such, come out with a well-defined and far-reaching palliative measures and reliefs that will adequately sustain the people and cushion the effects of any further order to stay at home or total lockdown.


Source: News Express

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