Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi has bemoaned the astronomical rise of COVID-19 cases in the state, describing it as ‘shocking and disturbing’.
Umahi made the remark on Monday during a news briefing after an emergency meeting with the Ebonyi COVID-19 response team and relevant stakeholders.
He stressed that all the cases were from returnees intercepted at the state’s various boundaries.
The governor said that between April 26, and May 20, the state had 13 confirmed cases of the disease but nine new cases were recorded on May 22, another nine on May 23 and two on May 24.
“We presently have 33 confirmed cases with six victims discharged and it should be noted that there is no community infection yet in the state.
“A breakdown of the cases shows that Afikpo North LGA has nine cases, Izzi – eight, Ishielu – six, Ikwo – four, Ohaukwu – two, Ohaozara – two, Onicha and Ezza North one each,” he said.
Umahi added that the state could not have recorded such upsurge in the cases if the various inter-state boundary lockdowns were working.
“Another problem is that we are ‘holding these returnees down’ at the various centres in our LGAs yet we have issues with test kits from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
“You can’t hold people down above 14 days without testing and the Federal Government (FG) should do something about this urgently.
“These people can’t go to their houses to isolate because some people stay up to five in a room in the rural areas.
“We can’t do anything even if they are kept at the centres for 21 days so there should be enough kits to appropriately follow NCDC guidelines,” he said.
The governor declared that the state-floated security outfit, ‘Neigbourhood Security Watch’, would be disbanded from June 1, due to the ineffectiveness of its members.
“Chairmen of various LGAs should strive to pay the members’ May salaries and we have authorised traditional rulers and other stakeholders to recommend 100 persons from various communities to be recruited in the new outfit.
“Their salaries will be N30,000 monthly and they will secure the 50 boundaries of the state alongside the various security outfits.
“We would no longer pay the allowances of security officers at the boundaries through their various heads, but through the monitoring team to be inaugurated by the deputy governor,” he said.
The governor said that all political office holders in the state would be members of the monitoring team including members of the state House of Assembly as would be approved by its Speaker.
“It is disheartening to see the deputy governor running through the bushes to intercept returnees.
“If by May 27, security at the borders does not improve, all political offices at the various LGAs will be dissolved.
“We thank the various LGA chairmen whose tenure expires on May 28 for their services and we will be relying on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the guiding template in conducting our council elections,” he said.