The Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to work with the Ghanaian government to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries in order to prevent the mistreatment of Nigerians who enter Ghana.
The chamber issued recommendations after considering a report from the Joint Committee on Health (Secondary and Tertiary); Primary Health and Communicable Diseases; and Foreign Affairs.
The motion was on “The Urgent Need To Conduct An Investigation Into The Allegation Of Fake COVID-19 Test Result Being Used To Defraud Nigerians In Ghana; And The Obtainment Of Fake Covid-19 Vaccination Cards.”
Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe, Chairman of the Joint Committee, stated in his presentation that the investigation was prompted by allegations that Ghanaian authorities diagnosed Nigerians who traveled to their country as testing positive for Covid-19 despite testing negative in Nigeria.
He further claimed that Nigerian visitors to the country were held in isolation for two weeks at a cost of N70,000 (NGN) equivalent every day, amounting to millions of naira.
According to explanations provided by the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19, investigations revealed that Nigerians were possibly exploited at the Ghana International Airport.
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.
In response to allegations of obtaining fake Covid-19 Vaccination cards and test results, Boss Mustapha stated that Covid-19 PCR Tests are conducted by accredited laboratories and are verifiable on the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) platform via a QR Code for international (outbound) travels.
He revealed that the NCDC verification portal, which hosts all validated PCR tests for outbound passengers, would be made available to airlines so that airline staff could be certified.
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 lamented, however, that despite these precautions, some “high-ranking officials” or those “connected” occasionally threaten the staff on duty and find a way to flee.
He stated that, while before the panel, the Presidential Steering Committee on Covid-19 sought the National Assembly’s support to ensure that all high-profile individuals 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 requested that the PSC consider lowering the cost of PCR testing for those who still need it for travel purposes.
It encouraged the Presidential Committee on Covid-19 to keep its travel protocols/advisories up to date as the disease’s epidemiology develops, and to inform Nigerians about these changes as soon as possible.