Access to Justice, a Nigeria-based civil rights organization, has urged the African Union and Nigerian Government to investigate troubling allegations of maltreatment and cheating of the country’s Ebola mission volunteers by the Nigerian Ministry Of Health.
PREMIUM TIMES had published how the volunteer returnees were mistreated in Sierra Leone and Liberia between December 2014 and May 2015. Their humiliation continued upon return to the country May 24, 2015 up until June 3rd when the final batch were ejected out of their hotel rooms.
They were locked up by the hotel management over unpaid bills. In a statement Thursday, Joseph Otteh, the Director, Access to Justice, said the organization was dismayed by the allegations and called for prompt, independent and thorough investigation into the preparation and organization of the AU mission of Nigerian volunteers to these countries.
“Those who put their own lives on the line in order to help save the lives of others must be praised and applauded for their courage, selflessness and generosity of spirit,” he said. “Nigeria and, indeed, Africa should be proud that its own citizens stood shoulder to shoulder, and in solidarity with their counterparts in disease ravaged nations, and stood up to be counted when the necessities demanded a lot more than the rhetoric of talk, and it was time to “walk the walk.”
Comparing volunteers from Africa and continents, he recalled that during the Ebola crisis in Africa, medical support volunteers from Britain, Spain and the United States who served in Liberia and Sierra Leone were treated like kings and queens and were provided with the best working and living conditions in these countries.
“To treat African, and in particular, Nigerian volunteers in the way reported by the media is unfortunate and scandalous. The volunteers deserve our gratitude, respect, and acclaim and not denigration. Nigeria and indeed, Africa, owes them that much! Those who have diminished the value and worth of what they have offered the country and continent have no business being where they are or managing the positions they hold, and no business managing interventions of this nature as a whole,” the group said.
“Furthermore, the reports allege that officials who coordinated the deployment and return of the volunteer Mission exposed Nigerians to grave health risks by expelling the Volunteers from hotels where they were staying before all mandatory health safeguards were completed. This again, along with allegations of corruption, must be investigated by the Buhari administration in order to establish whether public health officials themselves could have so seriously endangered the lives of Nigerians in the manner alleged.
“If so established, the responsible officials must be held accountable for their actions. This is the minimum that our government should do to ensure Nigerians stay safe, and are not be hopelessly discouraged from serving their country and continent should the need arise again in the future,” Mr. Otteh said.
Published: June 12, 2015. By Tobore Ovuorie
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