COVID-19: Benue ‘index case’ is a prisoner of conscience, HURIWA alleges •Demands her immediate release

Posted by News Express | 26 April 2020 | 369 times

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•Purported Benue index case, Mrs. Susan Okpe

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has described as a prisoner of conscience the 54-year-old Mrs. Susan Okpe, who was said to be the Benue index case of Coronavirus and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene so she regains her freedom.

The rights group also asked the Nigerian office of the London-based international human rights crusaders, Amnesty international; the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the Swiss-based United Nations Human Rights Council to step into the matter to ensure that the illegal detention and holding of a citizen as a hostage by the Benue State government is brought to an end.

HURIWA also called on reputable lawyers such as Chief Olisa Agbakaoba (SAN); Femi Falana (SAN) and Ebun Onagoruwa (SAN) to kindly deploy their expansive reach in the Nigerian judicial system to secure a legal reprieve for Mrs. Okpe who from every available evidence is a prisoner of conscience detained by the Benue state government.

HURIWA recalled that nearly a month ago, the said Mrs. Okpe had cried out to President Buhari and the British Government to evacuate her from Benue state just as the Governor of the state, Dr. Samuel Ortom, had on Saturday, March 28, announced that she was the first recorded case of Corona Virus in the state. This, the rights group said, is against every civilized protocols and medical ethics which forbid the exposure of the medical records of an identified person especially without the consent of the subject matter.

HURIWA recalled that Susan Okpe, a British-Nigerian citizen, arrived the country on Saturday, March 21 through the Kenya Airways for the burial of her mother slated to hold early next month even as a family sources told the media that, she Okpe ran series of tests before leaving the United Kingdom.

HURIWA stated that in a message sent via WhatsApp to reporters including themselves, Mrs. Okpe appealed to the Nigerian and UK Governments to move her out of Benue State even as she stated in her own words: “I have kept my cool, but am now sick with swollen gums, being stooling throughout the night, no nurses or medical attention. My crime is that am a British (citizen) who came into Nigeria, particularly Benue State; felt feverish, took myself for check-up because I have travelled longer than usual. After examinations, I was told by the doctor my temperature was high and I asked to be kept for observations as I did not experience any before I left London, passed from Lagos to Abuja my temperature was like any other passenger was being monitored by the authorities.”

HURIWA stated however that after nearly a month that the distressed lady made the clarion call which elicited the response of the British embassy including a rash of propaganda masterminded by the Benue state government, it does not appear that this prisoner of conscience has been freed even when the Benue government cleared all the persons that reportedly met her on arrival from Great Britain in March.

The rights group said it was approached by at least a dozen callers on Saturday April 25 requesting that it appeal to the Nigerian and British governments to directly intervene and get this citizen of both countries freed from what appears to be enforced disappearance and incarceration.

HURIWA accused the Benue state government of holding a citizen against her will which is against the chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) in addition to being in gross violations of relevant articles of the international covenants on civil and political rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

HURIWA has therefore canvassed an end to the torture of Citizen Susan Okpe.





Source: News Express

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