Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, said on Sunday the greatest tribute the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), could pay to the 19 deceased victims of COVID-19 in Nigeria, including his former Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who died on Friday, was for governments at all levels to fix public hospitals.
Falana, who made the call in a statement, also attributed the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria to official hypocrisy, impunity and the lack of coordination between federal and state governments in the efforts to fight the pandemic in Nigeria.
He said, “From the foregoing, it is indisputable that there is an obvious lack of a coherent COVID-19 policy. This puts to question dangerously the seriousness of the Federal Government in the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“No doubt, President Buhari has paid glowing tribute to the late Mr Abba Kyari. But the greatest tribute that can be paid to the deceased and the other 18 citizens that have lost their precious lives on account of complications arising from COVID-19 is for the Federal, state and local governments to embark on fixing and equipping public hospitals without any further delay.
“Just last week, the British Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, who was discharged from a public hospital in London after his treatment for COVID-19, was full of adulation for the National Health Service of his country. That should be a sober lesson for members of the ruling class in Nigeria, who usually spend public funds on medical treatment in foreign medical centres.”
Kyari, who was believed to have wielded the highest level of influence in the Buhari regime, died of COVID-19 complications on Friday and was interred in Gudu Cemetery, Abuja, on Saturday.
Falana noted on Sunday that Kyari’s burial, which drew a crowd of people including top government officials, was handled with impunity as it was conducted in disregard of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control’s directive on social distancing.
He also referred to how Kyari, until his death on Friday, was treated in a private cardiological hospital in Lagos at a time the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said no private hospital had been granted permission to treat the disease.
He stated, “While the NCDC has directed anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to report for treatment in isolation centres for treatment and monitoring former Chief of Staff to the President, the late Mr Abba Kyari was allowed to be treated in a cardiological centre, a private hospital in Ikoyi, Lagos State.
“Since then, some influential people who tested positive to COVID-19 are said to have insisted on treatment in private hospitals without official authorisation.”
Falana said since “no private hospital has been accredited by the NCDC to treat COVID-19 patients, the death of Mr Abba Kyari ought to be investigated by the Federal Government.”
He said with the warning by health experts that Nigeria had yet to see the worst of COVID-19 pandemic, the “NCDC should henceforth operate without bending the rules to satisfy partisan political interests”.