IKEJA, Lagos, Nigeria – The Federal Government and the Lagos State Government on Thursday restated their commitment to the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.
The assertion is coming against the backdrop of a breach of a regulation by a foreign airline carrier at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on the repatriation of the remains of a Nigerian from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, which is reported to be battling with the Ebola virus.
In a joint press release, it was clearly stated that against the Nigerian extant regulation, the airline brought the remains of this Nigerian without all necessary documentations that are required to process its clearance by the Department of Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health. The Federal Government of Nigeria and relevant agencies, as such, condemn this deliberate breach.
Nigeria’s Minister of Health, professor Isaac Adewole and his Lagos State counterpart, Dr. Jide Idris, say in line with Industry practice a report had been made to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the regulatory agency of the Nigerian Aviation Industry on the occurrence.
“Necessary steps are being taken by the regulatory authority to sanction the airline in a bid to prevent future occurrences. We have commenced a detailed investigation by all relevant agencies of government to determine the immediate and remote intentions of this unfortunate behaviour.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria instituted a ban on the repatriation of human remains into the country in all points of entry as a precautionary measure to avoid importation of any infectious disease. This ban was one of the interventions we undertook as a nation during the Ebola outbreak. The Federal Ministry of Health, Port Health Division issued guidelines to all airlines (foreign and Local) on the procedures to be followed to obtain a waiver before repatriating any human remains into the country.
“The government will like to reiterate again that the ban is still in force and any attempt to contravene this ban will attract serious sanction. The administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, takes the health of her citizens seriously and will not shy away from wielding a big-stick on any errant individuals or organization,” Adewole said.
He said some preemptive decisions to avert any possible outbreak after the said breach had been taken by the federal government, the Lagos State government and relevant health authorities.
He said officials of Port Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), and the Lagos State Ministry of Health investigated the cause of death of the human remains and took samples for laboratory investigation.
“We are happy to inform Nigerians that the laboratory report showed that there is no evidence of Ebola infection or any other contagious infections in this human remains. We assure everyone to go about their normal business without any anxiety. Government will want everyone to be vigilant and encourage all our officials at land, sea and air borders to continue screening of international passengers,” he said.
Recently, the World Health Organisation alerted the whole World on the recent outbreak of Ebola in DRC. The Minister says Nigeria is keenly following this unfolding event. He added that the Nigerian government wishes the government of the DRC success in her fight against this unfortunate outbreak.
He appealed to international passengers to cooperate with officials conducting screening at all our borders, adding that this surveillance shall continue until further notice. He urged all international carriers to also cooperate with relevant agencies of government to ensure unhindered surveillance.