Maurice Iwu, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is a professor of pharmacognosy who claims to have developed compounds believed to cure Severe and Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The Imo State Chair of the Committee on Coronavirus Prevention and Control, in this interview, speaks on issues bordering on coronavirus.
You were appointed as the Chairman of the Committee for Coronavirus Prevention and Control in Imo State. A recent report had it that you asked Imo citizens to disregard any rumour that the state has recorded cases of coronavirus. How true is that?
I didn’t say that neither did the committee ask anybody to report that Imo is free from coronavirus. We are still investigating suspected cases and reports. And until such reports are confirmed, there is no case yet and that’s a fact. Factually, there is no single confirmed case in the state but we have a suspected case that we are investigating and it is being handled professionally.
It is said that it is only the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that has the sole authority to announce any case or declare if there is a case or not in any state. Does this not contradict your no case in Imo?
It is only the NCDC that has the authority to do that. We should be mindful of individuals creating false news about these issues. People should not try to usurp the role of regulatory agencies. Only NCDC can confirm cases of coronavirus in states of the federation. Someone may want to market himself by engaging in misleading news to create panic.
Are you working in collaboration with NCDC on corona?
We are not interested in announcements, and that is actually why we had a press conference. We are more interested in controlling the situation. Anybody making any pronouncement is doing the wrong thing. The NCDC is working with all the states of the federation and they are the ones in charge of coronavirus cases from the national point of view. What each of the states is doing is to take measures that will help and manage the crisis as it develops.
Talking about preparations to fight the crisis, what is the committee doing to manage the situation in Imo as it has not really erupted?
The committee is in collaboration with the state Ministry of Health and the various sectors of health workers, Nigeria Medical Association, the National Association of Nurses and Midwives, the representatives of the Medical Laboratory Technologists and so on. The whole idea is to be able to tackle the situation in Imo and take measures on two things: Enlighten the people about the need for personal hygiene, which is very crucial and also to let them know what the authorities are saying from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and NCDC. Our job is essentially to have these people participate in the whole process.