By Tordue Salem
The House of Representatives yesterday called on the Federal Government to ignore the World Health Organization, WHO, in efforts to find cure for COVID-19 and approve use of alternative remedies to cure the disease. It also called on governors of the 19 states of the North to reverse the ban on the Almajiri System until millions of Islamic school children loitering the streets of the region without care are provided for by the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC. The Green Chamber also urged the Federal Government to intervene and immediately halt repatriation of Almajirai children to their states of origin.
The House, in a motion by Ossy Prestige (PDP, Abia), rejected warnings by the World Health Organization on the use of local cures for the disease. Sponsor of the motion noted that since the outbreak of Coronavirus disease, otherwise known as COVID-19, it has infected more than four million people around the world, with a global death toll of about 300,000, adding that Nigeria has over 4,641 confirmed cases and over 150 deaths, with the virus spreading to virtually all states of federation at an alarming rate. The House plenary, preside over by the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, immediately adopted the motion, urging government to support and encourage the use of locally developed remedies for the management and treatment of COVID-19 ailments in Nigeria in order to ascertain their efficacy. It also mandated the Committee on Health “to interface with the relevant government agencies to ensure that our locally-deveIoped remedies for the treatment of COVID-19 are included in the clinical trials by the WHO under its “Solidarity initiative.”
‘No effective cure from WHO’ Presenting his motion, the Abia lawmaker said: “The World Health Organization, WHO, has not found any effective cure or vaccine for this virus ravaging the world but has launched an international clinical trial known as “Solidarity” to help find an effective cure for this disease. “WHO has cautioned against the use of any drug or treatment that has not undergone clinical trials or administering these unproven treatments to patients with COVID-19. Some countries jettisoned this caution by WHO and have gone ahead to develop indigenous treatments to combat the ravaging effects of this virus on their citizens.” “The Israeli Institute for Biological Research has successfully developed a series of antibodies to combat the coronavirus. The Israeli President is considering building a vaccine production plant for the roduction of vaccines to treat COVID-19 patients.
“Madagascar, a small African country took their destinies in their hands and to the consternation of WHO and the Centre for Disease Control, developed a herbal drink for the treatment of COVID-19 patients from a medicinal plant, Artemisia annua, which their herbal research institutes have been studying for over 30 years. Madagascar so far has not recorded any death from COVID-19 cases.’
“In recognition of this feat by Madagascar, WHO has come out with a statement in support of considering Madagascar’s herbal drink as possible treatment for COVID-19. The President of the country said the factory for the mass production of the herbal drink will be operational in one month.
“Madagascar’s herbal drink has received recognition and boost from other African Presidents, including those of Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, Egypt, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Comoros and have ordered the Madagascar herbal drink for the treatment of COVID-19 cases in their various countries. “Various similar claims of breakthroughs in the cure of COVID-19 by our scientists and alternative medical practitioners have received virtually no attention from the government, the Ministry of Health, the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 or the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, but the government and its agencies have instead volunteered for the WHO “Solidarity” programne where, sadly, our citizens will be used as “lab rats” for WHO’s untested and unproven vaccines and treatments that are not indigenous to our people.” ‘Iwu, others claim cures’ The lawmaker said he was aware that Professor Maurice Iwu, Chief Executive Officer of Bio-Resources Institute of Nigeria, had stated that his team of researchers have found a cure for coronavirus which information had been conveyed to the Ministers of Health and Science and Technology.
He lamented that till date, no action had been taken by government to verify the authenticity of this claim and that the Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine Department of the Ministry of Health had written to the Director-General of the NAFDAC informing her that the Department, through its research, has formulated a possible cure for the management of COVID-19 ailments. Continuing, the lawmaker said: “Anambra Traditional Medicine Board, headed by Reverend Father Raymond Arazu, a Catholic Reverend Father and foremost traditional medical practitioner, has announced that the board has developed a cure for COVID-19.
“A Nigerian pharmaceutical company, headed by Dr. Paul Olisah Ojeih, has come up with claims that the COVID-19 pandemic has become a money-making venture for certain privileged Nigerians and that his company, Iris Medical Foundation Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, has developed a drug that can cure COVID-19 in 72 hours.
“The medical practitioner has challenged the government to give him 10 infected patients and allow him to place them on his drug, known as Venedi Elixir, which has been used in the past 18 years in the treatment of viral infections that are drug resistant, affirming that he is willing to infect himself first with the virus and cure himself under 72 hours using the drug. “Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which can be used for management of COVID-19 disease and some of them have documented scientific evidence of developing local cure for respiratory infections with medicinal properties of anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects, but instead of our government to look inwards and encourage our scientists and alternative herbal practitioners like other countries are doing, we are rather waiting for WHO for a cure and subjecting our people to be used as experimental guinea pigs for vaccines which are still in their developmental stages.”
‘Halt ban on almajiri system’ On the ban on the Almajiri system by northern governors, the House in a motion sponsored by Aishatu Jibril Dukku (APC, Gombe); Shehu Balarabe Kakale (APC, Sokoto), charged the governors not to ban the system until the Almajiri children were provided for by the Universal Basic Education Commission, UBEC. Mrs. Dukku, in presenting the motion, recalled that governors, under the aegis of Northern Governors Forum, had on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, issued a statement where they unanimously decided to ban the Almajiri system of education and evacuate the children back to their parents or states of origin. She said:
“The statement hinges on the risk that the children are exposed to due to the coronavirus pandemic and that about 10 million children attend Almajiri schools in Northern Nigeria with over 500,000 Almajirai living in the state of Kano alone, from where majority of the children are being evacuated. “The evacuation of the Almajirai is jeopardizing the fight against COVID-19 due to the high level of movement of the children from different places and its attendant high risk of infection.
The evacuation of the children is against their fundamental human rights of residing anywhere in Nigeria as guaranteed in Chapter IV of the Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria. “The evacuation of the children is in violation of the inter-state travel ban currently enforced by the government.
The nature and manner the children are being transported is dehumanizing and has brought them pain and untold hardships and in some cases, these children, after traveling for so many hours under harsh weather, are rejected and turned back by their states of origin or at best, kept in isolation under dehumanizing and demeaning conditions.” Adopting the motion without debate, the House urged the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to enforce the inter-state travel ban order and direct the governors concerned to immediately halt the evacuation of the Almajirai.
The House also urged the NCDC to counsel the governors concerned on the threat posed by the evacuation of the children at this critical period. “The Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management should include the Almajiri children among beneficiaries of palliatives being distributed by the Federal Government to the less privileged. The Federal Ministry of Health should also examine the health condition of the Almajiri children,” the House said.