The International Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law (Intersociety) has faulted the report of the panel that investigated the mass deaths in Kano State, which attributed only 255 of the total 1,774 deaths to the COVID-19 pandemic. It said in a statement issued from its head office in Onitsha, Anambra State, that about 1,100 of the deaths were as a result of COVID-19.
Said Intersociety in the statement signed by Board Chair Emeka Umeagbalasi and the head, Campaign & Publicity, Damaris Amaka Onuoha: “The Government of Kano State also got it totally wrong in the area of “allocation of illness causes”. Granted that its investigative panel was headed by one Prof Murthar Gadanya (Head of Department of Public Health, Community Medicine, Bayero University, Kano), but that aspect of the report is strongly believed to be circumstantially fallacious or deliberately designed to distort facts. The report’s ‘finding’ to the effect that “only 255 of the total 1,774 deaths were allocated to COVID-19” is dead on arrival and brazenly false. It is therefore correct for us at Intersociety to agree with the Federal Ministry of Health that “50-60% of the Kano harvest of deaths is COVID-19 caused”.
“In other words, about 1,100 of Kano deaths are COVID-19 caused. It is reminded that the Health Minister made this disclosure on 9th June 2020 in Abuja. the minister, Osagie Ehanire, had on Monday said investigation suggests that between 50-60 percent of the strange deaths in Kano may have been triggered by or are due to COVID-19. Ehanire disclosed this at the daily COVID-19 Presidential Task Force briefing in Abuja. The minister said the Federal Ministry of Health received the report of the Ministerial Task Team that went to Kano, to support the COVID-19 response with commodities, training, technical and confidence-building measures this morning. Federal Government is, therefore ‘partly, but not totally right’.
“Having previously criticized the Federal Government especially it’s Center for Disease Control for ‘not doing enough’ and ‘responding at snail pace’, the same Government also got it wrong by still failing to capture its disclosed figure of some 1100 Kano deaths in the national COVID-19 death statistics. Realistically speaking, the Federal Government is brutally under-reporting and representing the country’s COVID-19 infection and death figures. If properly and credibly investigated, over 1700 deaths arising from COVID-19 in Northern Nigeria are being omitted or excluded from the country’s official statistics.
“It is our firm position that most of the now officially confirmed over 2500 harvest of deaths in the named Northern Nigerian States are COVID-19 caused and the remainder-COVID-19 pandemic related. It is “COVID-19 deaths” when the victims died of the same owing to old age or when its symptoms strike at those with existing illnesses or with weak or vulnerable immune systems. And it is COVID-19 pandemic related when those with different protracted illnesses died because of their inability to access hospitals or doctors or in the course of encountering hardships brought about by the pandemic. If expanded further, deaths arising from COVID-19 generated domestic violence or security controls or street crimes including crimes against persons and properties; may be qualified.”
Intersociety in the statement issued on Thursday, June 18, 2020, equally faulted the period covered by the investigation. According to it, “The report should have started from the second week of April to the second week of May 2020 and not “1st March to 2nd May 2020”. Apart from the Kano harvest of deaths first reported on 11th April, killing over 150 under four days; there were reports of more people dying of “strange” or “unexplained” illnesses in the State as at the second week of May 2020. For instance, as at 6th May 2020, people were still dying in the State of “unexplained Illnesses”. The victims included Professor Mousuru Lasun-Eniola of the Department of Physical Education, Bayero University, Kano, BUK, and an ace broadcaster with radio Kano, Ali Haruna Yakasai. The duo died on 6th May 2020.”
The rights group noted that its position on the Kano mass deaths has been vindicated. “The announcement by the Government of Kano State that a total of “1,774 persons died in the State between 1st March and 2nd May 2020”, is not only a total vindication of our earlier reports but also another victory over our consistent campaigns to hold the country’s Local, State and Federal Governments to be accountable to the governed at all times,” it said.