May 31, 2023

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Nigeria and Covid-19 Protocol: Theatre of the absurd. A victim’s narrative

3 min read

Port Health Services Officers attending to passengers at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria

Below is a Certified True Life Narrative of a Nigerian journalist and lawyer, based in London, but travelled home for a very important family matter, shortly after the restriction on international travel was lifted.

Barrister George Femi Ogunjimi, who is also a member of the Clergy class at the Anglican Church, London, here share his experience.

His abridged account is here below;

We arrived early in the morning and having fulfilled all righteousness regarding the ‘fit to fly’ conditions from the UK, I thought it was going to be a smooth passage or clearance for me and many others on the flight.

Soon after the embargo on air lifting was lifted, I’d already cancelled my flights twice and paid heavy penalties to the airline just because of inadequate information from the Nigerian government on inbound travellers’ covid19 protocol.

What I found out as what was most important to the handlers of the virus protocol was the monies to be raised from individual travellers and not exactly the health and safety of the general populace.

I went online and paid the required fee of just over N50,000.00 and filled in my personal information too, as required.

Aremo Femi George Ogunjimi

But on getting to Lagos, we were met with hordes of officials from the Ministry of Health, Immigration and others that I tried to ascertain their offices and their usefulness to the virus protocol at the airport.

An official from the Ministry of Health attended to me first and demanded to see the proof of my payment and I quickly obliged but, to my surprise, she informed me that my payment could not be traced on their system, hence I would have to make another payment right there or risked detention. 

I had no option than to make the payment there, after all pleadings fell on deaf ears. My temperature was then measured and details taken again before proceeding to the Immigration who again drilled me on my mission to the country despite carrying a Nigerian passport. 

I must not forget to mention that observance of social distancing was only carried out just after alighting from the plane but from the moment the Ministry of Health officials took over the handling of the protocol, up to where our luggage were being disembarked, it became a personal battle  to carry out social distancing in a sanely way.

In conclusion, it seemed to me that extortion, fees collection was the primary motives of the personnel at the airport, as I was made to pay another N50,000.00 to be able to be tested by Medbury Clinic, for the issuance of a ‘fit to fly’ certificate for my return journey to the UK.

The ridiculous part of all these was that not one officer as many as they were at the airport, asked me of the evidence of the test at the airport.

I was shocked, bewildered!!!

Author-: Aremo Femi George Ogunjimi

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