An internationally recognized human rights group in Nigeria under the auspices of Center for Human Rights and Accountability Network (CHRAN), has called on the government of Akwa Ibom State to support non-governmental organizations that cater for the mentally challenged people in the state.
The call was made on Friday, 9th September, 2023, when members of Wonder Life Mental Rehabilitation Centre, Ikot Afanga, Oruk Anam Local Government Area paid an advocacy visit to the rights group in its office in Uyo.
The CHRAN in a statement issued after the visit and signed by its Director and Deputy Director, Public Affairs, Otuekong Franklyn Isong and Comrade Vincent Aluu and made available to journalists on Sunday, noted that mentally-challenged persons in the society have rights to life, rights to medical care and deserve proper care from government irrespective of their mental condition.
The CHRAN commended the immediate past Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, for all the supports the former governor rendered to the Wonder Life Mental Rehabilitation Centre including building a healthcare facility at the rehabilitation centre meant to provide medical services for the inmates.
The CHRAN observed that the healthcare facility was, however, left unequipped by the government and has remained non-functional since its completion, and appealed to Governor Umo Eno to equip the healthcare facility so that it can render medical services to the inmates at the mental rehabilitation centre and save their lives.
The CHRAN also called on Eno to support the centre and provide it with palliatives in order for it to continue to cater for the mental health of the citizens of the state who find themselves in such a precarious situation.
The rights group also called on other relevant agencies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), multinational oil companies operating within the state and public spirited individuals to extend their supports to the centre and give the inmates a sense of belonging.
The CHRAN commended the visiting team led by its founder, Rev. Godwin Udofah for choosing to serve humanity through taking care and rehabilitating mentally challenged citizens of Akwa Ibom State.
Earlier, the founder of the Centre, Rev. Godwin Udofah had stated that the non-governmental organization was established in 1996 (27 years ago), noting that the body has so far rehabilitated 760 mentally challenged citizens of Akwa Ibom State, trained, empowered and reintegrated them into the society among several other achievements the centre recorded.
He added that 27 mentally-challenged persons are currently receiving several levels of treatments at the centre, calling on Eno to support the centre, provide palliatives to the inmates and equip the healthcare facility built by his predecessor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel.
Udofah who was accompanied on the visit by Prof. Herbert Mbagwu of the University of Uyo, and Mr. Ebenezer Udofah, used the visit to thank Mr. Udom Emmanuel for supporting the centre during his tenure.
He commended Gov Eno for having empathy for the poor and vulnerable people, saying that mentally challenged are in the class of vulnerable people in the society.
He revealed that the activities of his centre are impacting positively on Akwa Ibom State through reduction in crime, and reduce the rate at which mentally challenged people roam the streets.
Other members of the CHRAN present during the visit were: Comrade Usen Johnson, Deputy Secretary; Comrade Aniedi Michael, Director of Students Affairs and Comrade Linus Udoma.