FOLLOWING the incidence of Ebola virus disease in Nigeria through a Liberian citizen that came to Lagos, the Liberian government complained Thursday that its citizens were being harassed and “stereotyped” in Nigeria following the death in a Lagos hospital of one of its citizens infected with Ebola virus.
“The attention of our embassy has been brought to several cases
of harassment of Liberians especially in Lagos and other places.
This harassment borders on stereotyping and sometimes
expression of collective guilt,” Liberian ambassador to Nigeria,
Martin George, said.
The patient who brought the Ebola virus to Lagos on July 20, Liberian
finance ministry employee Patrick Sawyer, was placed under
quarantine at a private hospital. He died on July 25.
“Just because the ‘index case’ came from Liberia, so ‘all
Liberians in Nigeria have Ebola’. That is the message and people
are being harassed,” said the diplomat.
He was speaking during a meeting the Nigerian Health minister,
Onyebuchi Chukwu, held with heads of diplomatic missions in the
country on developments on Ebola virus.
Nigeria on Wednesday confirmed five new cases of Ebola in Lagos
and a second death from the virus, a nurse, bringing the total
number of infections in sub-Saharan Africa’s largest city to seven.
“There are law-abiding Liberians living here in Nigeria who have
been harassed. So I appeal for your indulgence as you frame the
responses especially on the radio talk shows. People have been
making all kind of derogatory remarks that have been brought to
our attention,” the Liberian diplomat said.
Regional grouping ECOWAS also said at the same meeting that it
has suspended momentarily meetings that could bring
representatives of its member states together.
ECOWAS Commission vice president Toga Mcintosh said that the
management of the 15-nation grouping has decided “to suspend
all meetings that will bring us together coming from our various
“Except if the mision is so essential and well guided, we will
approve. All other missions, meetings will be suspended for a
The suspension is initially for the whole of August, after which the
situation will be reviewed for further action, an ECOWAS
spokesman, Sunny Ugoh, told AFP.
The Lagos liaison office of the Economic Community of West Africa
States (ECOWAS) has been temporaily closed down and
fumigated, Mcintosh told the meeting.
It was clear that some ECOWAS officials had primary contact with
Sawyer in the organisation’s Lagos office when he arrived, he also
said, but gave no further details.
The Nigerian health minister said Nigeria will begin to screen all
outbound air travellers and if they are found to have the Ebola
virus, they will be asked to stay back.
“We don’t want them to go to other countries and cause problems
for those countries…. We can’t allow you to take it (Ebola virus) to
your country and cause problems for them,” Chukwu said.