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Governor Otu removes mentally deranged persons from Calabar streets?

By Agba Jalingo

The Cross River State Government recently initiated what they called “a comprehensive exercise to remove mentally challenged individuals from the streets of Calabar” to a ‘mental holding centre.’

The statement from the government house claimed that the holding centre was “designed to provide immediate care and rehabilitation for mentally challenged individuals found in the city.” The exercise was and is still managed by the Calabar Urban Development Authority (CUDA).

Governor Otu removes mentally deranged persons from Calabar streets?

But CUDA, from the onset, has been very unprofessional in managing a task that is clearly and legally not their own. Videos and pictures of the evacuation released by government aides showed people accompanying the mental health sufferers with canes into buses.

They have now packed mad people, the destitute, the homeless, the elderly, all sorts, and dumped into one extremely dirty hall without any form of attention. No beds. No mosquito nets. No open-out for recreation. No proper feeding. No proper medical attention. I am not exaggerating. CrossRiverWatch visited the centre today and brought those pictures, which our reporter took undercover, as there are restrictions on photographs in the facility. They only took these people into detention.

Governor Otu removes mentally deranged persons from Calabar streets?

CUDA is not lawfully permitted to directly handle people with humanitarian needs. They should rather follow up with the right authorities to ensure the right thing is done. Even if CUDA could evacuate mad people from the streets, they should immediately take them to the right facilities for handling. Mad people are professionally handled by psychiatric hospitals or rehabilitation centres.

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These places have people and capacities coupled with medication and correct feeding that matches their medication conditions, if any. The elderly often need more than some makeshift cooking. Some of these persons may just have become destitute. Some suffer from drug addiction, etc.

Governor Otu removes mentally deranged persons from Calabar streets?

Carrying people’s relations into detention in the name of rehabilitation is injustice and has to be addressed. If the intention was genuinely to rehabilitate, then Governor Otu has to pay a visit to the centre to see for himself, recall the files and re-engineer the process in order to achieve that goal. For now, it is a smokescreen.

Yours sincerely,
Citizen Agba Jalingo.

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