The Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos has clarified that the two individuals who are behind the issuance of COVID-19 results without proper testing are neither staff nor agents of the institute.
Reacting to a report titled ‘How officials issue fake COVID-19 result without test in Nigeria’ aired by TVC Communications on December 29, 2020, the Director General of NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako, said that following the report an investigate committee was immediately set up to investigate and come up with facts on the truism or otherwise of the allegation.
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The report aired by TVC Communications also alleged sharp practices at the institute’s testing site.
Professor Salako told newsmen in Lagos on Friday that a thorough investigation by the committee revealed that the suspects, namely; Enoch Basyan and Fazing Binrah are neither staff nor agent of the institute.
According to him, the duo were caught in the act while they were trying to do COVID-19 test for one of their staff who acted as a dummy patient at the front of a bank at Isolo in Lagos.
“They were promptly arrested by the Police from Aswani police station who have been previously requested to join us to effect the arrest of the culprits.
“Upon arrest, their vehicle was searched and several copies of laboratory request forms including that of NIMR were found in their possession.
“They thereafter admitted committing the alleged offence,” he said.
He noted that they have been handed over to the police for further investigation.
The suspects in the course of their confessional statements, according to Professor Salako, revealed that they sometime came to the institute and surreptitiously took away the COVID-19 Testing Request Form under the guise of coming for Coronavirus test.
“Our staff who is in charge of Testing Request Form, who was interrogated, admitted that he had once mistakenly given out a blank form to some individuals who made away with the same without traces.
“This mistake he attributed to work pressure.
“The staff in question is currently been interrogated and if found liable will be sanctioned in accordance to the extant rules guiding such offences,”
“So, armed with our request forms, the suspects collect people’s samples and fabricate results, which they issue to people without or without undergoing testing.
“With respect to the security man that granted an interview to TVC Communications, we want to say categorically that he is not our staff and his interview is tantamount to a misrepresentation of facts.
“He works for a security outsourcing company engaged by NIMR and as such, has no business to attend to people who are seeking to do COVID-19 test.
“He has been at large since the publication and his employer is making efforts to track him for further interrogation,” he said.
He, however, made known that having discovered some gaps in the COVID-19 response, the Institute has put in place mechanisms to check some of the loopholes as clients who register on the institute’s website for testing but do not qualify for test will henceforth be provided feedback to that effect.
Also, a photo identification will required together with an invitation letter to be admitted for testing.
“All COVID-19 results from NIMR are sent electronically using our official email.
“Therefore, any result emanating from any source other than our official website is not our result,” he stressed.
While he commended the TVC Communications for their active journalism, he urged them to be more thorough and circumspect in their publications by providing opportunities for institutions to be part of their efforts to rid the country of bad eggs in the system, in order to unravel the truth and to avoid embarrassment to agencies of government.