COVID-19: After 50 Days In Medical Detention Without Justification, Susan Okpe Lawani Deserves Freedom – By Dr Bolaji O. Akinyemi.
Africans are unique. We are woven through cultures and traditions to live simple and value oriented life, particularly as parents over children and vise versa. Recently, October last year to be precise, an Owo Prince, South West Nigeria, who had lived his entire life in America and was married to a white woman came home and took ill. Watching his condition deteriorate, the family requested for his death wishes.
All he wanted was that his wife and children should perform the dust to dust and ashes to ashes rites at his funeral. But this was not to be as his immediate family refused to come to Nigeria citing insecurity.
Susan Idoko-okpe (nee Lawani), was not any different from a thorough breed African woman in spite of her exposure to the Western society in the UK. There she has lived long enough to earn British citizenship, yet remained true to her root and its culture.
The joy of performing the rites all African parents wished at their funeral was her motivation for leaving the UK. Nothing will stop her from being there for her mother. Though the COVID-19 outbreak was pronounced in the UK, she made sure she got tested and self quarantined before departing the UK.
She arrived Nigeria on 22/3/2020 from London with Kenya Airways via Lagos to Abuja and proceeded to Benue on the 23/3 into the warm embrace of family members who were so happy to see her. Meetings were held in preparation for her mother’s funeral, the rite she held so dear, which has been held pending due to her present ordeal.
On the 24th Susan began to feel funny but could only relate this to jet lag. She immediately went to a hospital to have herself checked.
After examination the doctor confirmed her temperature was a bit high. Though she expressed surprise and told the doctor that throughout her journey her temperature was checked and was okay.
The doctor advised her to stay for observation and then administered some pains killers. She felt better within four or five hours.
The twist to her case was to start the following day which was 25/3/20. The doctor had come in to her ward to check on her progress. What a disappointment to hear that her temperature was still a bit high! Though she felt okay and was showing no symptoms of COVID-19, the doctor advised on taking standard procedure for people coming from high pandemic area like the UK. She was to have a swoop done from the Benue state Ministry of Health, which was okay by her. So the Doctor left to make the needed contacts with the officials of the State Ministry of Health.
The doctor later came in with two men who were introduced to her as officials from the ministry of health. Of course, she had no reason to suspect them. But now, according to her she knows better. They took a swoop from her left nose and throat. She never forgot her right to be briefed of their findings, so she asked the doctor when to expect her result, which the doctor said would be out in 24hours. “Though I wanted to leave the hospital, one, I was fine and again because of the cost, but I convinced myself on the need to remain in the hospital because of the sensitive nature of my query.”
On the 26th of March 2020, which is 24hours after the swoop was taken, no results was brought to her. However, on the 27th of March 2020, the doctor came to her room to tell her the results were out and that she tested positive to Covid-19. She asked for the results and the Doctor said he didn’t have it. Susan was distraught and wanted to know if it was a joke or something? The Doctor said no and left.
It was about this time that her friend who also happened to be a doctor came in and said in shock, “SUSAN! The Governor is having a press conference right about now and your name was mentioned as the first COVID-19 index case in Benue State”. In rage, she ran down the stairs to meet the doctor who was seen discussing with someone who she learnt was the hospital Director. He told her to calm down that they were fighting for her, I then asked “what for? And why?” She told them that if this was a joke or drama, it was over and that she was discharging herself right away. But before she could leave for her room to get her things, the hospital was surrounded by armed men, vehicles and an ambulance to take her to an isolation centre.
Susan became Benue State index case, meaning the State can from then partake of COVID 19 cake.
Susan found herself in an isolation center, with no care giving spirit attached, and disdainful treatment all over! The dehumanisation was such as never seen before. She was later moved to Abuja as she started complaining of frequent stooling and swollen gums.
Her removal from Benue isolation centre was on the order of the Minister of Health, she arrived Abuja on the 2nd of April 2020, where she has since been. Her test done in Benue State was not given to her until the 8/4/20 after she was told of the need for another test. But she refused insisting that it will not be done until she was given her last results.
On the 10th of April 2020, another swoop was done and they told her it was positive yet no results was shown to her. Doctors come in everyday to administer some medications which she has refused till date. Her life, she claims is in danger not to Covid-19, which to her is yet to be proven with a result but by the insistence of Governor Otom to keep her as the index case of Benue State. Why? For the State to be part of the bounty that COVID-19 has become to State Governments. Susan has become a knife to slice the portion of Benue State from Covid-19 national cake.
I spoke with Susan on phone on Friday 17th April 2020 while she was in her isolation centre in Abuja. I was compelled to investigate her case after a friend called my attention to her plight. He sent me her phone number. And after I saw the video she did in isolation, I felt we all deserve to hear her side of story.
Susan deserves fair hearing, I have personally reached out to leaders who could intervene, they all seems to be on the side of Government, without any audience with Susan their conclusion is drawn. But I personally think it is evil to conclude that Government and persons in it are always right.
Susan as of today, Tuesday 12th of May 2020 has spent 50days in the custody of the Government showing no symptoms whatsoever. If the claim of NCDC that she is asymptomatic is accepted. How come she has done almost 4 circles of 14 days needed for the symptoms to show without taken even analgesic from NCDC, and yet there is no symptoms?
She has been tested without her results made available, yet kept against her wish on the ground of being positive to COVID-19 without a tenable scientific result.
Another swoop was done on the 15th of April and she was told verbally that it was positive. She asked for the results and none was made available, on the grounds that NCDC only call to tell them the result. they would advise she take her medication.
50 days running without medication and not developing complications should raise International suspicions, and inquiry into her “medical miracle”. Failure to do this may leave the rumours that COVID-19 is transmitted via “treatment” being mischievously propagated on the social media tenable. Credence must not be give by the Government to the public that is already rife with the conspiracy theory.
May I call on World Health Organisation and The British Government, whose citizen, Susan Lawani is, to request that Nigerian Government must be investigated by an International Commission of Inquiries and the results of such investigation made public.
Real, as COVID-19 may be, it is to a larger percentage of Nigerians a conspiracy blown out of proportion. It is nothing but lies, deceit and propaganda to access international funding, this impression must be corrected in a bid to have cooperation of the public at taming the spread of coronavirus.
We all must stand up for Susan now! She is currently at the National Hospital, Abuja. The Government must present her result to her, she has the right to know her status not by verbal communication but written report of a scientific review. If that can’t be done, then there is no justification for keeping her.
50 is the number of Jubilee, after 50 days in medical detention without justification, Susan Okpe Lawani deserves freedom Today!