THE Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Coronavirus Disease has formally reported Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to President Muhammadu Buhari for what it termed the governor’s hostile attitude to the body.
The Task Force is also displeased with Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ben Ayade (Cross River) for allegedly not cooperating with the committee in the fight against COVID-19.
Similarly unimpressed by the attitudes of the Kogi and Cross River State governments is the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), particularly on claims by the two states that they are coronavirus free.
The association says the two states must follow the testing guidelines issued by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) before having such bragging rights.
We gathered yesterday that the Federal Government may impose a lockdown on Kogi State or declare a state of emergency if Governor Bello continues to defy the PTF.
Sources said the Kogi governor who is generally perceived as a core Buharist stands the risk of losing the favour he currently enjoys from the Villa.
The PTF, according to sources, is angry at the “very poor” attitude of Bello to the management of Coronavirus epidemic, which has led to the conduct of only two tests so far in his state.
The committee suspects that the state may be suppressing information about Coronavirus infections in its territory, going by the governor’s alleged maltreatment of NCDC officials sent to the state on Thursday.
The four-man NCDC team to the State was allegedly hounded and escorted out of Lokoja by some policemen and security agents up to the airport road in Abuja on the order of the governor.
The development and reports of some cases at the Federal Medical Centre in Lokoja, the state capital are said to have fueled suspicion by the PTF that the state has more to hide on COVID-19.
Consequently, the PTF has met with all the security agencies to “keep them abreast of the breach of the Quarantine Act by the state government.”
A top level source said: “The facts at our disposal have shown that Kogi is at the risk of COVID-19 because it is a melting point for inter-state travelers and it shares borders with 12 states (about one-third of the states in the Federation) which had recorded infections. The border States are Ondo, Ekiti, Edo, Kwara, Niger, Anambra, Niger, Enugu, Osun, FCT, Plateau and Benue.
“Kogi has only conducted two tests despite the increasing rate of community spread. We were shocked that the state government has refused to fulfill its obligations as enshrined in the Quarantine Act 1990 CAP 384 LFN.
“Yet, the PTF has been very polite in relating with Bello. For instance, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire on Tuesday called the governor and it was agreed that a four-man team of NCDC would be sent to the state.
“But while receiving the four-man team on Thursday, he said they should handover the letter they brought to the state Commissioner for Health. In the process, the commissioner had contact with the head of the team and the governor sparked by ordering his immediate quarantine.
“Following refusal to be quarantined, the governor humiliated the team by ensuring that they were escorted by armed police out of Lokoja to the airport road in Abuja.”
Another reliable source said: “The PTF was briefed by the team which went to Kogi State. And the committee in turn held a meeting with security agencies where the governor’s unbecoming attitude was formally reported.
“The PTF members also unanimously decided to report the governor to President Muhammadu Buhari since he has always boasted that he has the ears of the President.
“The position of the committee is for the President to invoke his powers in the 1999 Constitution to declare a state of emergency in Kogi State or use his inherent authority in the Quarantine Act to impose lockdown on the state.
“The PTF believes any of these steps should be taken if the governor remains recalcitrant. It is left to the President to decide the fate of Kogi State.
“Although the governor is a favourite of the Presidential Villa, it is doubtful if he can have his way. He is overstretching his luck.”