COVID-19: Arrest, prosecute those who evade screening, Reps tell FG
• as former Reps member, Oladele canvasses for cooperation
House of Representatives on Monday urged Federal Government to arrest and prosecute whosoever refuse to undergo necessary screening at various airports forthwith, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rise to 35 with one death.
Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon. Benjamin Kalu gave this position while responding to reacting to the circular issued by the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari alleging that some members of the House of Representatives evaded screening at the airport.
While frowning at the development, Hon. Kalu who aligned with the decision and measures put in place to contain the spread of coronavirus across the country, urged all National Assembly to subject themselves to the law of the land.
He said: “There is a screening process at the airport that is supposed to be obeyed by every patriotic citizen of this country irrespective of your status. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of the country, a Senator, member of the House or a governor.
“Health is very important. If yours is not important to you, that of others is important to them and any act of being careless might affect a whole lot of Nigerians.
“The call from the Presidency through the Chief of Staff is potentially a wake-up call. The House will not feel that he was trying to pin on them what they are not. If there are those who did it, they should desist, whether you are a House of Representative member or not, it doesn’t matter. Everybody is expected to subject himself. I am sure he sent that same letter to the Senate. It could be Ministers or Senators.
“There is nothing wrong about that. Yes, I have seen that letter being circulated online. What I am taking away from that letter is that people should make efforts to comply with this particular health policy and I do not see anything wrong with that letter.
“Adding my voice to what the Chief of Staff said, Members, Senators or whoever you are, comply with the simple instruction because this virus is real and does not care about your status. So, let us humble ourselves, wait a few minutes and pass through the checks.
“There is nothing humiliating about going into isolation if need be. You must save your family, friends and the people you work with. I think it is the patriotic thing to do and I commend the Chief of Staff to the President for raising that alarm and writing that letter. People should not misinterprete the letter because it is not an attack on the House of Representatives.
“The content of the letter is what should be taken which is that everyone should be careful no matter who you are.
Hon. Kalu who also travelled and returned back to attend plenary last Thursday disclosed that he was screened by relevant authorities at the airport.
“I carried my hand sanitizer and when I came in, I went through the process. The (health personnel) are very respectful and professional about what they do. I don’t know why anybody should claim to be a member of this or that and not subject himself or herself to such screening.
“The truth is that it is unpatriotic for you not to pass through the screening. It is unpatriotic to the nation and such persons should be penalized. They should be arrested. Those people who pass through there without screening should be arrested and be properly checked before being released so that we don’t allow anyone who has this virus into circulation. “We don’t even know who has this virus right now and so, we have to take extra care,” the House spokesman observed.
In a related development, a former member of the House Committee on Health Services, Hon. Kayode Oladele has urged all political office holders and Nigerian citizens to cooperate with the health authorities in the bid to contain the pandemic.
Hon. Oladele had during an exclusive interview with Tribune Online published on 2nd March 2020 beckoned on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare coronavirus a pandemic.
While reacting to the report credited to the Chief of Staff to the President, calling on members of the House of Representatives who allegedly evaded screening at the airport, Hon. Oladele who urged compliance maintained that nobody is insulated from the pandemic.
“While I did not want to doubt the source of that information, I want to state that it is in everybody’s interest to subject ourselves to screening at the airport or any place where we are asked to do so.
“As we all know, this coronavirus and indeed any form of sickness or disease never a respecter of persons, and we have just heard that some Senators in the US have also tested positive to the virus. As leaders, the National Assembly should set an example and cooperate with the health authorities.
“As I stated earlier a couple of weeks ago, it has now been confirmed by the World Health Organisation that the coronavirus is a pandemic. What that means is that we are fighting an unseen battle against the pandemic and anybody can be infected without knowing that they are carriers. It is only through this test that such can be detected.
“Let me quickly say that not only in the interest of the public that the test should be carried out but also in the interest of individuals that this virus can save lives,” Hon. Oladele urged.