Nurses, patients flee from COVID-19 suspects in Adamawa
• Fintiri wades into media/police face-off
• MRA urges police to produce SARS personnel that brutalised journalists
It was drama in Adamawa State where nurses, patients and residents fled hospitals and the community at the sight of coronavirus (COVID-19) suspects. The first case was at Shelleng Council where villagers ran away and maintained a distance from a woman who, on returning from Lagos, developed catarrh and fever.
The Guardian learnt that the woman returned from Lagos about two weeks ago. Also, at a private hospital in Yola, nurses fled on hearing that a patient just returned from Malaysia.
Our reporter gathered that it took serious plea and pacification for the medical team to tend to the patient. The management of the facility told our reporter, “We received a call from a doctor at a private hospital that a patient came with fever, cough and runny nose. We asked him to send him here, but when he came, our nurses and other patients ran away because they suspected he had coronavirus.
“We were forced to refer him to the specialist hospital for further examination which shows he was free of the disease.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Abdullahi Isa, has urged residents to stop COVIID-19 stigmatisation. In another vein, Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State has pleaded with the state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to shelve the planned blackout of the state police command.
NUJ had given the police three days to apologise for harassing and assaulting its members last Friday or face media blackout. The journalists were trying to file their reports after the day’s monitoring of citizens’ compliance with the lockdown order when policemen in three pick-up vans stormed the council and molested them before arresting 12 for allegedly flouting the stay-at-home order.
Attempt by the state chairman of NUJ, Ishaka Dedan, to explain to the police led by a Divisional Police Office (DPO) that his men were exempted from the order was futile, as he was also reportedly assaulted.
However, Governor Fintiri yesterday waded into the face-off and convinced the pen warriors to reconsider their position. Subsequently, a statement signed by Dedan and the secretary, Fidelis Jockthan, urged members to continue their relationship with the police.
Similarly, Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has accused the police in Adamawa of allegedly condoning crimes against journalists, following the failure of the state command to arrest and prosecute men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who invaded the state’s NUJ Secretariat in Jimeta.
According to the rights group, on April 2, 2020, the armed security personnel brutalised 12 journalists, illegally arrested and detained them at the SARS facility.
In a statement yesterday, MRA gave the police 14 days to arrest and initiate criminal proceedings against the SARS agents involved in the incident or it would issue a formal report to the United Nations Secretary General.
MRA’s programme director, Ayode Longe, added: “The journalists were, however, released after two hours in custody on the orders of the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Audu Madaki, who also directed the police officers involved in the arrest to apologise to the NUJ within three days.”
He said there was no justification for the police to go to the NUJ secretariat “because when President Muhammadu Buhari announced the lockdown in response to the coronavirus on March 30, 2020, he was clear that it would only apply to Abuja as well as Lagos and Ogun states and specifically exempted journalists and media workers.”
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