*As PSC pushes for prosecution of high-profile Nigerians violating Covid-19 travel protocols
The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to liaise with the Ghanaian Government to strengthen bilateral relations between both countries to prevent the maltreatment of Nigerians entering Ghana.
This was contained in the recommendations of the chamber after it considered a report by the Joint Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary); Primary Health and Communicable Diseases; and Foreign Affairs.
The report was on the Motion on “The Urgent Need To Conduct Investigation On The Allegation of Fake COVID-19 Test Result Being Used To Defraud Nigerians In Ghana; And The Obtainment Of Fake Covid-19 Vaccination Cards.”
Chairman of the Joint Committee, Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe, in his presentation, recalled that the investigation was necessitated by allegations that the Ghanaian authorities diagnosed Nigerians who travelled to their country of testing positive for Covid-19 even after testing negative in Nigeria.
He said it was alleged further that Nigerian travellers to the country were committed to isolation for two weeks at N70,000 (NGN) equivalent daily, an amount running into millions of naira.
He disclosed that investigations showed that Nigerians were possibly exploited at the Ghana International Airport going by explanations by the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19.
According to the lawmaker, the Chairman of the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha, while appearing before the investigative panel, explained that Ghana conducts Rapid-Ag testing on arrival at the airport which has less sensitivity and specificity compared to the PCR test done in Nigeria.
“For this reason, it is expected that the Rapid-Ag Test will correctly classify Positive PCR tests but may fail to correctly classify all negative PCR test results.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would need to establish and report back whether the reported case is an isolated event or systemic error or fraud”, Oloriegbe said.
On the allegations of obtainment of fake Covid-19 Vaccination cards and test results, Boss Mustapha stated that for the purpose of international (outbound) travels, Covid-19 PCR Tests are conducted by accredited laboratories and are verifiable on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) platform through a QR Code.
He disclosed that the NCDC verification portal which hosts all validated PCR tests for outbound passengers, would be made visible to the airlines so that certification can be done for the airline staff.
Oloriegbe, stated that the PSC utilizes the services of security operatives to deal with passengers who blatantly refuse to comply with travel protocols for both in-bound and out-bound passengers.
He, however, lamented that despite these measures, some “high-ranking officials” or those “connected” sometimes threaten the staff on duty and find a way to escape.
He said that the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, while before the panel, sought the support of the National Assembly to ensure that all high-profile persons who fail to comply with existing protocols are prosecuted, accordingly.
The Senate, in its resolutions, urged the Federal Ministry of Health and the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) to develop an exit protocol for all outbound passengers where authentication of the vaccination cards and PCR tests certificates are conducted at the airport.
It also called on the Health Ministry through its Port Health Services Department to link PCR results platforms with the airline platforms to ensure effective coordination and detection of any fake PCR test result.
The chamber urged the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to liaise with the Ghanaian Government to strengthen bilateral relations that will prevent a re-occurrence of any I’ll-treatment of Nigerians entering Ghana.
The Senate called on the PSC to consider the reduction of cost of PCR testing for those who still require it for travel purposes.
It urged the Presidential Committee on Covid-19 to continuously update its travel Protocols/Advisory as the epidemiology of the disease changes, and also promptly brief Nigerians on these changes.