Yahaya Bello, governor of Kogi State, has threatened to take legal action against President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government for declaring Kogi State as a high-risk destination over the state’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of COVID-19.
Globalgistng reported that Kogi had been flagged as a high-risk state by the federal government over Governor Yahaya Bello’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of COVID-19.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 also had accused Mr. Bello of refusing to let tests be conducted in Kogi and failing to build isolation centres.
On Monday, February 1, the PTF declared Kogi a high-risk place, warning Nigerians against visiting the state.
“A state that is not testing at all is an absolute high risk for Nigerians to go there because there is no testing facility and even if you fall sick, there is no isolation centre, and they don’t even acknowledge that the disease exists. So for that reason, we put that state at the top of the high-risk states,” stated Mukhtar Muhammad, the National Incident Manager of the PTF.
He added that the task force was working to provide support to various states by implementing the new regulations signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Meanwhile, Governor Yahaya Bello has hinted that he may take legal action against the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control if they continue to speak against Kogi’s worsening pandemic status.
“We very much believe their intent was to ensure investors are scared from coming to the state,” Mr. Bello’s spokesman Kingsley Fanwo said in an interview with Daily Independent.
“Despite their unreliable figures, Kogi emerged the investment destination of Nigeria in the last quarter of 2020.”
“They felt embarrassed and the best way to hit back is to create a picture of the health crisis in the state,” Mr. Fanwo said.
He did not immediately say which indices ranked Kogi as Nigeria’s top destination for foreign investments.
In a clear attempt at muddling of all available evidence, Mr. Fanwo, who’s also the information commissioner, also claimed that the Bello administration in Kogi has done more sensitisation on the disease than any other state in the country.
Mr. Bello during a political rally in January warned Nigerians not to accept COVID-19 vaccines, despite having no background as a scientist and lacking any knowledge about vaccine engineering. The governor is an accounting graduate.
The governor discouraged Nigerians from taking the approved COVID-19 vaccines by the Federal government, saying COVID-19 vaccines could be dangerous to the health.
Yahaya Bello in a video widely circulating on Facebook Since January could be seen discouraging a jeering crowd of supporters from taking the vaccines.
“…They want to use the (COVID-19) vaccines to introduce the disease that will kill you and us. God forbid!” Mr Bello said.
The governor hinged his criticism of the foremost COVID-19 vaccines currently being rolled out in nearly 50 countries globally on the breakneck speed at which they were developed.
“These vaccines are being produced in last than one year of COVID-19. There is no vaccine yet for HIV, malaria, cancer and for several diseases that are killing us… We should draw our minds back to what happened in Kano during the polio vaccines that crippled and killed our children. We have learned our lessons.
“If they say they are taking the vaccines in the public allow them take their vaccines. Don’t say I said you should not take it but if you want to take it open your eyes before you take the vaccines,” he said.
But the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) dissociated itself from the claims by Mr. Bello, urging him to take the crisis seriously.
The forum restated that it would rely on the information and guidelines given by health professionals and scientists to ensure the decision it would make will help retain public and professional trust, not compromised by conflicts of interests.
With an academic background in accounting, Mr. Bello possesses no scientific expertise or professional competence to advise Nigerians against the realities of COVID-19 or efficacy of vaccines.