By Momoh Ibrahim
The death of Justice Nasiru Ajanah, the Kogi State former Chief Judge may have set the tone for another round of controversy between Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, (NCDC).
Governor Bello had insisted that the late CJ died of natural course, the center however said that the respected jurist died in its facility. Perhaps, more curious is the nature of the burial accorded the late Ajanah.
The Governor had been at danger with the NCDC over issues relating to COVID-19 in the State. He has equally faulted the claims of the agency that the late Chief Justice of the state died of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Bello who insisted that COVID-19 is not a new disease in this climate, said the country should have it’s own way of treating the disease, “that is what we should be exploiting rather than subjecting our people to hardship, hunger, and starvation through the lockdown.
The Governor also accused politicians of playing games with the lives of Nigerians amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bello was speaking while playing host to the Board of Trustees of Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation, who paid him a visit in his office in Lokoja.
He further said that the state’s Chief Judge, Nasiru Ajanah, died a natural death, urging the people not to attribute his death to anything other than natural as is being insinuated by certain persons for political and mischief purposes.
He said, “Let us stop this game, Nigerians are suffering, instead of the lockdown with its attendant negative effects on the people, why can’t we turn it to employment opportunities, providing clothes for face masks to be imported to those countries who have the disease.
“COVID-19 is not a new disease in our climate, we have our own way of treating it, that is what we should be exploiting rather than subjecting our people to hardship, hunger, and starvation through the lockdown.
“The late Chief Judge, Justice Nasir Ajanah, had been managing his health since 2016. We know his medical history, he was my brother, and we know we have been managing him since 2016 but this time, he was completely isolated, no one was allowed to even speak to him until he passed away, we cannot afford to be playing games with the lives of Nigerians, this must stop.”
Surprisingly, a family sources, who appeared to collaborate Governor Bello’s stance, said Ajanah may have walked into an avoidable death as there was no credible evidence that he contracted the dreaded Coronavirus Pandemic.
A very bitter family member who spoke with our reporter in confidence noted that what the CJ complained of was malaria fever, over which he had even been treated.
“What gave us the confidence that all was well with him was that all the people close to him were tested along with him. His wife, driver and orderly were tested and they all came out negative.
“In spite of this, he went to the isolation centre in Gwagwalada, Abuja expecting to be given a clean bill of health and to be back home this past Monday only for the family and the members of the public to be told that he passed on exactly two weeks after he got to the centre,” said a source.
The Source further revealed that his condition was not as bad as being painted in some quarters, saying that a family member even volunteered to pay for the services of a nurse and that a sum of N500,000 (five hundred thousand Naria) was agreed, but the CJ however insisted on following the laid down rules.
”He went to the isolation himself not that he was taken there, even the text messages he sent to the family never indicated any cause for concern” said a source.
The source said that he was never a man given to unnecessary complaints or undue preferential treatment as a result of his office.
The family disclosed that the oxygen level of the jurist was 97 percent which to them was still okay, with sources saying that “we were confident he was going to be discharged.”
With this unfolding scenario, the Governor has maintained his opinion that the “disease was forced on the people for no just cause.”
Against this background, most people within and outside of the state, have said that this continuous denial by the state government of non existence of the deadly virus in the state, may just be endangering the lives of the citizens. Surprisingly, investigation revealed that death rates across the state had scaled down drastically, with the period of the pandemic. This may have put paid to the claim of the Governor that the deadly disease is not in the state.
Others however blamed the NCDC for not being able to put a distinction between orderly malaria symptoms and COVID-19. They also queried that since people are being cured and discharged, the center should be able to tell Nigerians what they are using to cure them, instead of operating in secrecy and in isolation.
However, a Non-Governmental Organizations Network (KONGONET), has also said that “It is a clear fact, that the state cannot ascertain the reality of its citizen’s COVID-19 status even though the government of the day has maintained its stands that the state is free from the dreaded pandemic that has claimed several lives in the world.
KONGONET chairman, Idris Ozovehe Muraina, also said that both the state government and the NCDC must have a meeting point in the interest of the citizens.
Similarly the statement issued by the Executive Director of INGRA, Hamza Aliyu, also called on politicians to avoid playing politics with the lives of Kogi State Citizens.
He said the fight against COVID-19 should be led by science and not emotion or personal sentiments.
“We call on His Excellency, The Executive Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Adoza Bello, in spite of his personal beliefs about COVID-19, to immediately intervene in the matter with the aim of amicably resolving all issues that has led to this unfortunate situation.
“The lives of Kogi State Citizens, which he has always sought to protect, is greater than any individual or personal interest,”
As it stands today, it’s Governor Yahaya Bello versus the NCDC, while the citizens watched.