RESIDENTS of Willoughby Street, Okobaba, a thickly populated slum community located in the Ebute-Metta (East) axis of Lagos State were relieved with the sight of a siren-blaring ambulance from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which was in their community to fetch three suspected coronavirus patients for treatment.
What was seen as a respite soon turned to apprehension and commotion by the time urchins took over the scene, holding the three suspected COVID-19 patients hostage and preventing the NCDC officials from gaining access into the building housing them. They insisted money must be paid to them either by the patients or the NCDC officials before they would allow the evacuation exercise and the commencement of the required test and treatment.
They chorused, “E fun wa lowo wa” (give us our money) to the amazement of onlookers. The stand-off could not be broken since neither of the parties from whom money was being demanded was ready to part with any. The caregivers left without the suspected victims.
The chairman of the Lagos Mainland Local Government Community Development Committee, Alhaji Quadri Tajudeen, attributed the action of the hooligans to lack of adequate knowledge about COVID-19. According to him, the primary focus of the people living in the slum is more on what to eat than wellness.
He said: “The people in the slum are focused on what to eat’ they are not considering death. We need to step up sensitisation campaign in the grassroots, especially now that Lagos Mainland has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state. We need to let our people know that testing positive for COVID-19 is not a death sentence.
“If the hoodlums have adequate understanding about what COVID-19 is all about and how it could be prevented, they would have allowed the NCDC to go with the three suspected cases rather than demand for money from them. If the victims too were aware that they have greater chances of surviving the pandemic, no matter the level of resistance by the area boys, they won’t listen to them.