Tension in Akwa Ibom as governor allegedly sacks chief COVID-19 fighter

Posted by News Express | 25 April 2020 | 1,499 times

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By SUNNY OKIM

There has been widespread apprehension across Akwa Ibom State as Governor Udom Emmanuel is alleged to have terminated the appointment of the state’s Chief Epidemiologist, Dr Aniekeme Uwah, over matters relating to the ravaging COVID-19.

A pointer to this emerged on Friday at about 6pm when a Director in the state Ministry of Information, Mrs Grace Akpan, posted on the social media that Dr Uwah, a former chairman of the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), had banged the phone on the governor and switched off his lines.

“BREAKING

Akwa Ibom State Epidemiologist Dr Aniekeme Uwah bangs phone on the Governor of  Akwa Ibom State, switches off his phones lines leaving Akwa Ibomites at risk of COVID-19...

details coming...”, the information director said.

Less than an hour later, another pro-government post came up with the screaming headline,

“Revealed: Reasons Uwah was fired as Akwa Ibom Epidemiologist”

But unlike Akpan’s claim of the doctor banging the phone on the governor, the said report, quoting “informed government source”, claimed the Chief Epidemiologist slammed the phone against the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, while he (commissioner) was relaying a message from the governor.

But checks by News Express threw some light on why the state chief epidemiologist whose office is in the forefront of the fight against the novel pandemic, would have been sacked.

A source quoting the NMA Public Relations Officer, Dr Ekem Emmanuel John, informed that the state’s Commissioner for Health came up with a policy that anybody that wants to get tested for COVID-19 must be cleared by the state government which Dr Uwah, the epidemiologist, objected to, being the specialist in charge.

According to the source, Dr Uwah was sacked for sending tested samples of suspected patients of coronavirus to NCDC against the instructions of the state authorities.

“Dr Aniekeme Uwah was removed from office for taking samples of COVID-19 suspected cases against the wishes of the Commissioner for Health who instructed that Dr Uwah should not send more samples to NCDC,” said our source.

“The refusal of the state government to cooperate with them is stalling effective assignment of NCDC in the state, as such exposing the citizens to disaster. This development has really confirmed fears that the contact tracing story of the state government is only a mirage. How can government be playing politics with human lives it is meant to protect?” queried the source.

The PRO of the state chapter of NMA was on a live programme on a radio station in the state concerning the matter.

However, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Sir Charles Udoh, told News Express on phone that Dr Uwah has only been moved to another department in the Ministry of Health.

“My brother, nobody has been sacked. The doctor has only been moved to another department in the ministry. It is a normal civil service procedure. People get redeployed from time to time and that of Dr Uwah cannot be different,” said Udoh.

Reminded that a director in his ministry yesterday evening informed the public of how the doctor in question had banged phone on the governor, which might have resulted in his being victimised, the information boss said,

“Well, I don’t know about that. Is that the official information? I don’t know about such information passed by any director in my ministry,” he said.

  • Governor Udom Emmanuel


Source: News Express

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