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Open Letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation

Your Excellency,

Secretary to the Government of the Federation &

Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19

Three Arms Zone

FCT, Abuja

Dear Sir,


We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) work to promote human rights, and ensure that core principle of efficiency, transparency, accountability, and inclusion shape the response of government at federal, state and local level to the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

A close observation of the COVID-19 situation in Kano State, since the index case was recorded on April 11, we find it critical to write to intimate your Task Force on the need for more radical responses to arrest the fast deteriorating COVID-19 situation in Kano. It is pertinent that the attention of the national Task Force under your able leadership gets a deeper understanding of the worrisome realities in Kano State, which have hampered an effective, efficient and sustainable response, which would protect the lives of the people of the State.

Based on increasing credible reports from communities across the State, if urgent action is not taken by the federal authorities to mitigate the spread of the virus, Kano State runs the risk of becoming a killing field, as COVID-19 continues its rampage. This reality would well be seen in the case of a woman whose viral SOS audio message has been making the rounds on social media after her son-in-law died of complications, which were related to COVID-19. From this citizen’s account, despite repeated, and many calls to the NCDC in Kano, no response whatsoever was received. The State Ministry of Health also showed no capacity or the required insight to respond to the call for help.

It took the intervention of the NCDC in Abuja for the distressed family to get some guidance on what to do and where to go. This speaks volumes about the dire situation in Kano. We believe that to beat the virus in the whole of Nigeria, the COVID-19 case in Kano requires more severe and strategic responses, currently not demonstrated. The federal health institution, the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) that should be central in the fight against COVID-19, is in an apparent operational retreat.  The suspension informs this view of speciality clinics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are also several reports of some healthcare professionals abandoning their duty to care for patients, including those with other ailments unrelated to COVID-19.      

 Absence of strategic leadership and institutional capacity in Kano State

The CSOs are further concerned about the lack of coordinated strategic leadership to contain the spread of the virus in Kano State effectively. As indicated in reports on traditional and social media, the State COVID-19 Task Force is apparently in disarray, and not functional. Stories of political interference in the work of healthcare professionals by influence peddlers have hampered the work of the critical vehicle for an effective response. There are increasing complaints within the rank of frontline healthcare professionals to the effect that the political leadership in Kano state is putting personal privileges and partisan considerations above fact-based professional approaches for managing the pandemic.

Reports making the rounds indicate that strategic meetings of the dysfunctional Kano State Task Force on COVID-19 as well as Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) are not held unless a particular family member of the State Governor is present. This makes light a responsibility to save the lives of thousands of people in Kano State. Furthermore, and as attested during a recent visit of a delegation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to Kano, there is an apparent leadership vacuum, which is inhibiting quality COVID-19 response in the State.

Non-Enforcement of Lockdown and Social Distancing Directives

Another painful area of weakness, which the undersigned CSOs deem inimical to the efforts to beat the virus in Kano State is the reluctance of the government to enforce its directives banning large gatherings, and calling on citizens to observe social distancing. We are worried that citizens have continued to flout the preventative measures. Our observations indicate that other than Friday congregational prayers, other daily prayers have continued in neighbourhood mosques. This is in total ignorance or defiance of the disastrous consequences these could hold for public health in Kano State. Social activities, especially around playgrounds, youths have continued to engage in daily games of football.

Even within the declared lockdown, night intra and interstate movements have continued in apparent disregard of the right social behaviour needed and advocated for to win the fight against the virus. These tendencies continue to enable the spread of the virus, and would no doubt jeopardize national efforts to beat the virus. The life of over 13 million Nigerians who live in Kano State continues to be endangered by these realities. 

As a critical constituency, Civil Society is both concerned and eager to support government efforts to curtail the impact of COVID-19 in Kano State and Nigeria at large. We believe that the National Task Force is well placed to intervene and facilitate the rescue of the situation in Kano State. It is our considered view that there is a need to step in and support the State government to close the gaps in leadership and coordination of the fight against this dreaded virus. The responsibility is now on the Presidential Task Force under your command to urgently and decisively act to re-direct and re-focus the response to COVID-19 in Kano State.

This drastic measure is vital in the interest of the good people of Kano State, given the spate of alarming statistics of COVID-19 related deaths reported in communities. Of immediate importance are the following proposals:

  1. Support of the State Task Force, Ministry of Health and the NCDC to enable aggressive testing and documentation for identification and treatment of COVID-19 victims in Kano State.
  2. Re-enforcement of health facilities, equipment and health service providers to manage the responses for detection and treatment.
  3. Massive quality sensitization and community engagement to ensure an understanding of the need for citizens to take responsibility for self and all.

We do look forward to your prompt and positive response to our request.

With best regards, we remain

Yours Sincerely,


  1. Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED)
  2. Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
  3. Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)
  4. Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA, Kano Focal Office)
  5. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
  6. Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP)
  7. Human Rights Agenda Network – Nigeria (HIRAN)
  8. Federation of International Women Lawyers (FIDA), Kano State Chapter
  9. Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), Kano
  10. Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development (PRIMORG)
  11. Women Peace and Security Network (WPSN)
  12. Youth Society for Prevention of Infectious Diseases & Social Vices (YOSPIS).

Cc: Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja

       National Human Rights Commission

       African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights

      Economic Community of West African States

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