It has become necessary to respond to the series of online videos made by the Benue State COVID-19 index case, Mrs Susan Idoko Okpe, in which she has repeatedly leveled accusations on Governor Samuel Ortom.
Mrs Idoko Okpe in her videos, made a number of allegations all targeted at vilifying the Governor whom she claims detained her in Makurdi on account of COVID-19 status and stigmatised her. In the said videos, she politicized the issue and whipped up ethnic sentiments, all in a desperate attempt to put the Governor in bad light.
It is important to state that Governor Ortom is not the architect of Mrs Okpe’s problems. If there is anyone who promotes unity and shows love to the various ethnic groups in Benue State, that person is Governor Ortom. In all his outings, statements and style of dressing, the Governor has demonstrated the qualities of a leader who does not relate with people on the basis of race, language, religion and place of origin. He exemplifies the unity of Benue State.
Governor Ortom has no regret revealing the identity of the Benue COVID-19 index case. The decision was made in the best interest of the people of the state who have continued to appreciate the Governor for the proactive approach to contain the pandemic. With the identity of the index case known, tracking and isolation of all who came in contact with her became easy.
It is the constitutional duty of the Governor to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his people. Section 26 (2) (e)of the National Health Act, 2014 gives the government the powers to disclose information relating to a person if ‘non-disclosure of the information represents a serious threat to public health.’
Mrs Idoko Okpe admitted in her numerous videos that on her arrival in Benue State, she visited a private hospital in Makurdi for treatment. She also admitted that the doctor in the private hospital later informed her that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was to be treated.
After the Deputy Governor,Engineer Benson Abounu led a team of medical experts to counsel Mrs Okpe and explain to her why she had to be moved to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, it was only proper that the people were informed that there was an index case in the state. This is precisely what the Governor did.
It is rather sad that Susan Idoko Okpe who is a Nigerian citizen has insulted all Nigerians and says repeatedly that she does not trust anyone in this country. But even in the United Kingdom where she left for Nigeria, the Prime Minister tested positive for COVID-19 and went public to say that he had contracted the disease. He was treated and later discharged. But here, Mrs Okpe has refused treatment and taken to daily production of videos to castigate all medical personnel who attempt to attend to her, government officials and anyone who holds a contrary opinion regarding her case.
The Deputy Governor who is Chairman of the Benue State COVID-19 Action Committee is an Idoma man, same as Secretary of the Committee. Mrs Idoko Okpe’s insinuation that she is being persecuted on grounds of her ethnicity is therefore unfounded and misleading.
She claimed not to have seen her COVID-19 test results, and in another breath described the same results as fake. How was she able to know that the results are fake without seeing them?
Coronavirus tests are carried out by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, not Benue State Government. Governor Ortom or any other person could therefore not have tampered with the same results simply to stigmatize the index case. The same way the Governor announced status of the index case is how he made known that of the 2nd case who is willingly cooperating with the COVID-19 team to get treatment.
We wish to remind Mrs Okpe that she is no longer in the care of Benue State Government. NCDC is in charge of her case in Abuja and will ascertain her status. If she is certified free of COVID-19, the disease control agency will let her go. She needs to redirect her messages to the agency and leave Governor Ortom alone.
With every sense of responsibility, Governor Samuel Ortom, on behalf of the Government and people of Benue State, wishes our dear sister, Mrs Susan Idoko Okpe speedy recovery and good health.
Chief Press Secretary
May 9, 2020.