AS the spectre of Ebola stalks the world, people everywhere are looking accusingly at the ECOWAS presidents. Like the commandants from whose prison a jailbreak of very dangerous prisoners has just happened, they had better have a damned good explanation of the event or face court martial, etc. The citizens of ECOWAS demand no less. How can these presidents allow such a thing to happen on their watch and disgrace all Africans? Aspersions of all sorts are being cast on us as incompetent to manage our countries.
Africa is being demonized as this mysterious human backwater from which strange diseases emerge to afflict the whole world. Before long, it will be argued that Africa should be re-colonized by the West to protect the whole world from the deadly incompetence of its corrupt black misrulers. In the meantime, the economies of ECOWAS countries are suffering. Their tourism sector has already been hit by postponement and cancellation of conferences, group tours, private visits, etc. In farming villages, economic activities are being disrupted as the people flee for safety. And when the entry bans being urged in the USA and elsewhere are imposed, there will also be the cost of social disruption as family members, barred from entry into America and Europe, cannot visit one another.
Students back home on vacation may not be able to return to their campuses abroad, nor will importers be able to make quick trips abroad to buy and bring in goods. Emergency trips abroad for treatment of other ailments will be affected. Until the epidemic is ended, the economies of ECOWAS will be seriously hit and the economic and social coats will keep mounting. And the epidemic canâ€™t be ended without knowing its causes and therefore the effective ways to combat them. After all, if you donâ€™t understand it you canâ€™t fix it.
I, as a concerned ECOWAS citizen â€“ and I believe many other Africans would join me in this â€“ therefore demand an emergency ECOWAS Summit on Ebola at which the ECOWAS presidents should set up a public and independent Commission of Enquiry comprising eminent international judges and jurists to investigate the event and find answers to some pertinent questions:
On Feb. 18, 2006, I delivered a public lecture at Muson Centre, Lagos, titled â€œLugardism, UN Imperialism and the prospect of African power.â€ In it, I mentioned a book, published in 1997, whose title should be the starting point of discussions on how to contain and end the Ebola epidemic of 2014. It was Emerging Viruses: AIDS & Ebola - Nature, Accident or Intentional? by Dr. Len Horowitz ,(Tetrahedron, LLC., 1997; ISBN:092355012-7;$29.95).
That title, from nearly 20 years ago, suggested that AIDS and Ebola may not be natural viruses, but lab-made viruses.
For the purposes of investigating this Ebola epidemic, and until a better hypothesis is offered, letâ€™s start with the hypothesis that this Ebola epidemic has been caused by a lab-made virus.
If it is a lab-made virus, then how come it is now suddenly proliferating in West Africa, in the Mano River basin countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea)? How many genetic engineering labs using recombinant technology are there in those countries? Who operates them?
Thatâ€™s where, in my view, the ECOWAS Presidents should begin their inquiries if they want to protect their populations from this and similar virus epidemics in future.
Here are some of the pertinent questions to be put to the proposed ECOWAS Commission:
Is the Ebola virus natural or artificial, i.e. lab-made?
Logically, it is either natural or artificial.
Here is an editorial in The Observer (London), Sunday 5 October 2014, telling of the first death in this epidemic:
â€œOn 26 December 2013, a two-year-old boy fell sick with a mysterious illness whose symptoms local people and medical workers had never seen before. Within two days, the boy was dead.â€
This suggests that it was not something previously known in the area. Hence it could not have been naturally present or endemic in that ecosystem. If it were a natural and therefore ancient member of the ecosystem of the Mano River basin, it would have manifested there long enough before now for the local population to have developed some immunity to it and to have knowledge of it â€“ as with malaria. Ergo, it is a recent introduction to the area. And it is probably an artificial virus.
â€¢ If Ebola is a lab-made virus, who manufactures it?
â€¢ Is there any patent on the Ebola virus? If so, who owns the patent?
(4) Who brought the virus to the Mano River Union countries (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) and in sufficient quantities to infect so many as to have killed some 3000 in the 10 months since that first death in December 2013?
(5) Have any labs in those countries been working on Ebola?
If yes, who set them up and who operates them?
Where precisely are they located?
How did the virus get from the labs to the village where the boy lived?
Was the escape to that village accidental or intentional?
Some other intriguing questions that ECOWAS presidents should direct the Commission to investigate include:
(10) Is it true that researchers from Tulane University, New Orleans, USA, have been operating in the area for about 10 years under the leadership of one Dr. Robert Garry, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University School of Medicine?
â€¢ Have they been conducting any experimental treatments on citizens of the region (e.g., injecting monoclonal antibodies)?
â€¢ What are the declared purposes of the Tulane University research project?
â€¢ Do they include detecting the possible use of hemorrhagic fever viruses as bioweapons?
â€¢ Have they also been investigating the use of monoclonal antibodies as a treatment for Lhasa fever and other viral hemorrhagic fevers?
â€¢ If so where? On-site in Africa or outside Africa?
â€¢ What treatments have such investigations produced for Ebola?
â€¢ Have these treatments been made available to the Ebola victims in West Africa? And how soon after the epidemic began?
â€¢ What precise roles have Dr. Robert Garry, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Dr. James Robinson, Professor of Pediatrics, been playing in this research?
â€¢ What do Profs Garry and Robinson have to say about the origins of this epidemic?
(20) What role has Corgenix Medical Corp been playing in the Tulane research?
(21) What does Douglass Simpson, president of Corgenix, have to say about the origins of this epidemic?
â€¢ Are any US Government agencies or UN agencies associated with Tulane University in this research?
(23) What role has the World Health Organization been playing in the Tulane University research?
(24) Who funds this Tulane University research project?
(25) Is it true that the Cubans sent help before the UK and USA? If so, How come the big countries were tardy?
(26) Did the governments of the affected countries (Liberia, Sierras Leone and Guinea) sign agreements permitting the research and trials in their territory?
(27)Were any risk assessments done before the arrangements were agreed?
(28) Were they given financial incentives/ rewards to allow the research?
(29) Did they clear these arrangements with the other ECOWAS countries?
(30) Are these governments in any economic arrangements with China?
These are 30 pertinent questions. Let an ECOWAS Commission of eminent jurists be set up, and let them help a frightened world to find and listen to the evidence.
If the ECOWAS investigation upholds the hypothesis that the Ebola virus is lab-made and new to the ecosystem of the Mano River basin, then whoever they were that brought this artificial Ebola virus to West Africa are prima facie responsible for causing this epidemic. And they have a legal and moral obligation to supply any cures they have developed and in sufficient quantities to eradicate the epidemic within a month.
The fearful citizens of ECOWAS, the fearful people of Africa, indeed the fearful people of the whole world need answers to these questions. And it is the responsibility of the ECOWAS presidents to start providing the answers without delay. The whole world is frightened; the whole world is waiting! The whole world is watching and judging them. Let them not, by inaction or delay, convict themselves of indifference or incompetence or worse.
â€¢ Professor Chinweizu wrote via email@example.com