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FG Facts Finding Report on Kano Deaths: CHRICED Calls For Decisive Action To Prevent Re-occurrence

Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) has been closely following the work of the facts finding panel which was set up by the Federal Government in April, following the death of hundreds of citizens in Kano State. While it is good that the report got to the bottom of the issue, and confirmed that 587 of those deaths were caused by COVID-19, it is more important to understand why such a huge number of citizens lost their lives without a robust, efficient and effective response from the healthcare system. For us, therefore, it is not enough to provide the data and statistics about those who died; the panel must take a step further to make public the underlying factors, which made it impossible for those precious lives to be saved.
It is pertinent to note that many people in Kano, just like other parts of Nigeria are still in agony as they continue to mourn the demise of their loved ones. The statistics are not just numbers; those numbers represent human beings who once lived here with the rest of us. Many of them were breadwinners for their families. It is therefore not enough to merely acknowledge that they died of COVID-19; it is very important to understand the failings and inadequacies of the health system, which made it impossible for those lives to be saved.

Such a comprehensive interrogation of those realities would then help both government and the governed to pick up valuable lessons. It is our considered view that if such important issues are not understood, lessons learnt and adjustments made, this same kind of tragedy would merely repeat itself in the case of another pandemic.

As such, CHRICED calls on the fact-finding panel to move beyond announcement and data mining to engage government and civil society in Kano State. This engagement must provide a sustained basis to answer the following question: what were the weaknesses or limitations of the epidemic or pandemic response system, which made the environment fertile for the COVID virus to wreak such havoc, and leave such a trail of deaths? In the face of the collapse of testing in Kano State in the early days of the pandemic, what plans should be made for rapid testing and contact tracing to deal with the threats posed by viral outbreaks or other public health emergencies? In terms of public communication, education, and enlightenment to contain disease outbreaks, to what extent can sub-national authorities learn from their failings during COVID-19, and therefore be on top of the game in the case of a future crisis. Importantly too, with the reality of many distressed citizens losing their lives after repeated calls for help to health authorities, who in many cases never showed up, how should citizens and public health systems design effective initiatives to prevent such unresponsiveness?

At CHRICED, it is our reasoned view that the aforementioned, and many other important questions need to be answered, not just theoretically, but practically for both government and citizens to have a clear way forward after the COVID-19 crisis. In our view, it would amount to double tragedy to gloss over the mass deaths in Kano without documenting and understanding where things went wrong. It will also be completely unacceptable to citizens if there is no effective, participatory and sustainable response to prevent this kind of mass death in the future. While extending our condolences to all families who lost their loved ones, we call on government at the federal, state and local government levels to work with citizens to understand the root causes of why and how the system failed to prevent or minimise the avoidable loss of so many lives. The only way we can honour those who have passed on is to work to ensure this kind of tragedy never occurs again.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!


Comrade Dr. Zikirullahi M. Ibrahim

Executive Director

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