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Pfizer Victims: Still on DNA test stoppage

To start with, Shehu Dikwa accused the TVF members of  causing an obstacle in the Trovan Victims compensation process by embarking on a court action…

To start with, Shehu Dikwa accused the TVF members of  causing an obstacle in the Trovan Victims compensation process by embarking on a court action and acquiring an injunction to stop the DNA test by the compensation committee through the BODE Laboratories consultants. He also wrongly stated that TVF members rejected the test because they considered the BODE as unqualified to conduct DNA tests.  According to him, “the problem is not the Board’s but the so-called Trovan Victims Forum (TVF), led by Alhaji Mustapha Garba Miasikeli”.

Here, Mr Dikwa should know that it is never a crime anywhere on earth, for a group or individual to seek justice and redress from a court of law, more so we now live in a democratic world. Further, by resorting to court injunction, the TVF is not questioning the qualification of the BODE Laboratories as maliciously put by Mr Dikwa, the group is rather protesting the dubious antics of some members on the compensation board, who are bent on misleading decisions of other well meaning members working with them, towards manipulating so-called DNA results to unjustly disqualify some of the claimants, as Shehu M. Dikwa’s write-up is equally directed at the same goal.  

It should be brought to the notice of everybody that the TVF and its chairman are beyond neglect of discrediting in this matter; firstly, the TVF members fought it out through the years until when the matter was finally brought to the settlement table, in 2009. Secondly, the Kano State Government fully recognized the TVF and its leadership because the governor, Malam (Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau, had twice invited the TVF chairman, Alhaji Mustapha G. Maisikeli and all the TVF members.

Likewise, the TVF chairman had travelled for all the important meetings held variously in London, Dubai and Abuja, with regards to the settlement issue. Additionally it was written in the Memorandum of Understanding that the TVF would have its representation in the settlement committee. This point was even re-mentioned by Malam Sule Ya’u Sule, the Director of Press to Governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, during the formal inauguration of the Trust Fund members at the Government House. This clearly indicates that something fishy is included in the settlement process and it is apparently an attempt to silence and sideline the principal claimants in the fund, i.e., the Trovan Victim members, the fact of which we are witnessing right now.

Mr Dikwa is doing this on the grounds of grudge to punish and make the victims suffer, because of their role in the past, in exposing the crimes of some members of the board as well as the two indigenous doctors who facilitated Trovan drug test in 1996, but who are still being covered and protected. The TVF’s stand on DNA is that although the foreign consultants could be genuine experts in their field, the fact shows that none of the local medical doctors appointed on the compensation Board. Rather, they are pediatricians by qualification, hence none is DNA literate or could read and understand whether the DNA result is genuine or manipulated against the victims. Another important reason why doctors on the compensation board couldn’t be trusted by the TVF is that they are all accomplices of the two suspect doctors, as they all work in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, where one of the culprit doctors of the 1996 Trovan test is the Chief Medical Director. Also, 15 more staff of the hospital were employed to assist the BODE Laboratories in the DNA test. In this case the TVF are wary of this questionable arrangement.

It is sheer pretence by the writer to have complained that the number of Pfizer compensation claimants shot up from the initially acclaimed 200 people to over 600, describing this as sign of lack of truth and intention to cheat, ultimately heaping all his charges on TVF members. Here, he deliberately turned his back on the fact that the Healthcare and Meningitis Trust Fund members printed and distributed thousands of claimants forms, much more than enough, which made it possible for “over 600” people to have collected them. Above all, it is still not bad to have over 600 filed claimants forms,  because an affidavit sworn-to  on August 2, 2007, before the Federal High Court, Abuja, by Pfizer agent, Ms Ada Okorafor,  claimed that the total number of patients Pfizer tested in the meningitis outbreak in Kano in 1996, was 1, 441. This indicates that the number is still far too short.

Mr Dikwa also stated that Alhaji Maisikeli and his group, the TVF are a bunch of opportunists, who are out to exploit the Pfizer’s case and enrich themselves and that they are “simply intent on benefitting from the compensation fund without being Trovan participants”. This is a highly dangerous assertion by the writer, because he didn’t use any acceptable yardstick to justify his condemnation of them, apart from his blind sentiment. By his already selfish and blind condemnation and disqualification of the TVF members just verbally and sentimentally, hence the TVF have all reasons to reject a DNA test such that Mr Dikwa believes in and wants them to accept by all means, because such a DNA result would definitely and ultimately be as sentimental, selective and bias as his own crude thinking.  

There is totally nothing like “blackmail” and “shakedown” or any action or intention to cheat or gain anything illegally and unlawfully, in all the activities of the TVF, as wrongly alleged by Dikwa. Everything being done by the victims’ group is in the open and for public consumption, either in the courtroom or in the media and the internet and nothing more.

Likewise, somewhere in his piece, Mr Dikwa wondered as to why the TVF travelled all the way to Abuja and rest their case with the Federal High Court there.  Indeed, these reasons are just simple and clear because within the tail end of Pfizer’s case that the compensation board came into being, it has displayed a lot of selfish tendencies to a level that couldn’t be tolerated by anybody. Hence the TVF must seek the Federal High Court’s intervention whereas the compensation board is seen to violate the laid down rules and conditions, by making use of Kano State government facilities in carrying out its official and secretarial functions.

The board also employed a government official among them, who is equally being paid all allowances and monetary claims that accrue to every member, as contrary to the clause that prohibits that cause of action. Thirdly, the compensation board members have violated the secrecy or confidentiality clause in the provisions of the settlement process, by letting loose copies of the claim forms to be carelessly used for wrapping some food items in the open market, an instance of which the forms were found being used to wrap Suya meat as well as other carefree purposes.

Isa Muhammad Inuwa, a journalist contributed this piece from Kano. P.O. Box 4524, Kano. Email: [email protected]

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