The Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba has tasked the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to create a uniform template to verify COVID-19 test results and certificates issued to travelers and Nigerians by government and private laboratories.
Reacting to an investigation by THECABLE exposing how COVID-19 test racketeers at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and staff of Federal Ministry of Health collude to commit fraud, Dr. Garba made the call during a radio program, PUBLIC CONSCIENCE produced by the Progressive Impact Organization for Community Development, PRIMORG.
The Medical Doctor who totally condemned the sale of fake COVID-19 test results to travelers at Abuja and Lagos airports revealed that the ongoing sharp practice poses a serious threat to public health.
He faulted the Federal Ministry of Health, NCDC and Port Health Authority for allowing private laboratories to issue COVID-19 certificates instead of having a uniform template with security checks and not taking advantage of technology to curb corruption.
“We should not be allowing private laboratories to issue COVID-19 certificate, they can do the screening, but there should be a uniform template in the country. And that template should have security checks, the template should be one, and should be with a serial number,” Garba said.
He also blamed the desperation of citizens to travel outside the country over the thriving selling of fake COVID-19 results. “The citizens have a role to play here, a person that is desperate to travel does not want to go through due process.”
Garba also urged the government to be more transparent in the management of COVID-19, while commending the effort of the media in exposing corruption in Nigeria.
On his part, an investigative journalist with THECABLE, Chinedu Asadu said that the perpetrators of the COVID-19 test result fraud at the airports devised means of producing fake test certificates that cannot be differentiated from the authentic ones issued by the approved laboratories.
Asadu also faulted the operations at the airport. He said: “The problem is that there is no system, there is no process of verifying the validity of these results, there is no process to even authenticate the results at the airport.”
According to Asadu, despite submitting video footages, voice recordings and images showing airport staff and staff of the Ministry of Health colluding to sell COVID-19 test results, the indicted officials are still on their duty posts, yet to be questioned or brought to book by any anti-graft agency. However, he noted that the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire had set up an independent panel to investigate the fraud at the airports.
“We’ve tendered the evidence we had, the videos of the persons collecting the money, everything that implicated them in the illegality, we sent it to them,” Asadu stressed.