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Use confiscated stolen assets as isolation centres, SERAP tells FG



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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised the federal government to convert confiscated stolen assets to Covid-19 isolation centres instead of begging innocent Nigerians to donate their building for temporary isolation centres.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire had last week reportedly begged Nigerians to donate and temporarily make their buildings available as isolation centres. According to him, more buildings would be needed, as the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) aims to test two million people in the next three months.

Responding to the plea, SERAP in an urgent appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari said using confiscated assets as isolation centres would provide safe and enabling environments for the treatment and care of people, improve the authorities’ ability to respond to COVID-19, reduce the risks to Nigerians and to public health.

In the urgent appeal dated May 2, 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “While it is important to ramp-up testing for COVID-19 to prevent the spread of the virus, asking Nigerians to donate their buildings as isolation centres would be counter-productive, as it would put them at greater risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

According to SERAP, “The proposed measure would be lawful, and more effective, as it would be in the public interest. Using the confiscated assets as proposed would neither violate the accused’s right to property nor entail a duty to compensate. The proposal by the Minister of Health would pose unnecessary risks to public health.”

“Our recommendations, apart from being entirely compatible with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption obligations including the UN Convention against Corruption, which has been ratified, would also enhance the ability of the authorities to effectively and satisfactorily respond to COVID-19.”

“Reducing health risks associated with Nigerians donating their buildings as isolation centres would complement the authorities’ objectives of ending COVID-19.”

“As the right to health is closely related to and dependent upon the realization of other human rights, including the right to private and family life, asking Nigerians to donate their buildings as isolation centres may also violate this fundamental human right.”

“The recommendations would also enhance the ability of the authorities to effectively implement the country’s international human rights obligations particularly regarding to take effective steps to prevent, treat, and combat epidemic, endemic and other diseases, such as COVID-19.”

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