Mrs. Susan Okpe, the COVID-19 index case from Benue State, is still insisting that she does not have the disease, and has taken on the State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for stigmatising and traumatising her.
From her confinement at an Isolation centre in Abuja, she produced a video and has raised questions as to whether the result of the tests conducted on her were truly hers, because they bear a false date of birth and details of her date of arrival to Benue.
Expectedly, the State Government, through the State Commissioner
of information, Culture and Tourism , Mrs. Ngunan Addingi, has risen in defence of the Governor.
The defence titled, COVID-19: SUSAN OKPE AND THE BENUE STATE GOVERNOR, DR. SAMUEL ORTOM, ŕeads in full: “According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC, Mrs. Susan Okpe nee Lawani a returnee from the UK who was hospitalized at Cottage Hospital Makurdi some time in March this year had tested positive for Covid 19 and this has been recorded by the NCDC in their data base, and reported nationwide against Benue State the same as the case of other states in the country.
“Following the discovery by NCDC, It was important for the governor to refer to her case as he addressed Benue people. This was a way to advise any Benue person who has come in contact with her to take caution against coronavirus and come out for subsequent testing to avoid its spread. He made her case public in his press statement to Benue people in the interest of the people.
“Unfortunately, the victim Mrs. Susan Okpe is observed to have been inundating the media with videos wherein hurling attacks on the person of His Excellency Gov. Samuel Ortom and the Action Committee on Covid-19 headed by his deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu.
“There is no doubt that Mrs. Susan Okpe in her many video outings has raised issues deliberately or unknowingly that has triggered murmuring on tribal lines, and questions on the integrity of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Benue State and the Nigeria Government.
“In her recent video she has again particularly accused Gov. Ortom and the Benue State Government of wrongly accusing her of testing positive for Covid 19. She has also claimed that the NCDC has presented a result to her capturing wrong dates of her return from the UK and her admission into Cottage Hospital Makurdi, and wrong age. Facts to note is that she is no longer in the custody of Benue State Government and I do not hold brief for NCDC but I must advice that if after 43 days she is still positive then she must take her heart very seriously.
“Where she would begin to have respiratory issues could become a threat even to her life, hence she must act with caution and begin treatment as soon as possible.
“Worthy of note is the fact that, the governor does not work with the NCDC neither is the Benue State Covid 19 Action Committee a staff of NCDC. The committee only works in line with NCDC guidelines. It is not the governor that ran the test on her nor him who presented a test result to her with conflicting dates of her return and admission into a hospital in Makurdi nor wrong date of birth. She is in Abuja under NCDC but not Benue State government.
“Besides, why would the NCDC and the governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom single her out for mistreatment like she claims? What is supposed to be the motive behind dehumanizing her by the duo of Gov. Ortom and NCDC? Out of over a thousand Covid-19 cases in Nigeria why is Mrs Okpe’s case different? These are facts that should be examined by concerned citizens.
“The derogatory remarks from her against the Governor and the Nigeria Government is uncalled for. Her attack on the governnor is very unnecceary.
“If careful attention is given to her messages, seemingly, she is indirectly advising the state government against further revealing of the identities of Covid 19 victims for fear of stigmatization. Yet, it would have been a wonder message if the right words and medium was used, because stigmatization is actually traumatizing and can cause death in situations like this.
“Although it is a very common experience at the instance of novel diseases. Patients of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Lasa fever, Ebola and other patients of these kind of diseases have had their share of stigmatization in time past. Stigmatization is very deadly but it is very common. Mrs. Susan Okpe’s message is clear, nevertheless, it is advisable for her, most importantly to cooperate with NCDC to enable her gain access to adequate medical attention and avoid causing unprovoked rankle. The people close to her should let her to understand that, testing positive for Covid – 19 is never the end of life. Let her also know that, it is said “the best kept secret of medicine is that the body heals itself if we create the right conditions, therefore, she needs to exercise calm.
“There is need to applaud the support of the governor and the Benue State Covid 19 Action committee for the job well done so far and not distract them from focusing on the fight against the spread of coronavirus in the state, especially now that Benue has recorded another case in addition to the index case.
“As a state we are praying for Ms.Susan Okpe quick recovery and hope that she gets out of isolation soon.”