There was pandemonium at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on Wednesday evening as travelers arriving Nigeria from the United Kingdom protested demand by officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that they pay N51,950 in to a private account for COVID-19 PCR test.
Daily Independent gathered that the passengers who arrived Nigeria from British Airways, Qatar and Lufthansa flights almost paralysed activities at the airport after officials could not providea logical response to their question son why they should pay money belonging to the Federal Government into an individual account.
According to COVID-19 protocol from the Presidential Steering Committee and the NCDC, passengers who are travelling to Nigeria from any country must carry out a COVID-19 PCR test and test negative within 72 hours to the day of travel. Travelers must register on the Nigeria International Travel Portal (NITP) for a repeat PCR test to be carried out seven days after arrival.
The government also mandated that passengers arriving Lagos airport pay N50,400 for COVID-19 test, while the price varies for other states, including the FCT.
However, upon arrival at the Lagos airport, passengers who had difficulty in accessing the NCDC website to pay the fees were ordered to pay the sum of N51,950 in to a private account be longing to one Williams Oladipupo.
They were handed over a note that read, ‘1433844324, Access Bank, N51,950 Williams Oladipupo’.
Those who did not have naira were asked to pay in foreign currency. They were debited 95 pounds each.
A young lady stationed at the desk already had the account number written on a sheet of paper. After confirming payment, she will then write down the name of the passenger, email, telephone number, passport number, nationality and preferred laboratory where they want the test to be conducted.
Trouble started when one of the passengers, a Nigerian, who claimed he had lived most of his life in the UK, demanded to know why monies belonging to the Federal Government should be paid into a private account. The young lady could not offer any explanation. She said she was only acting on the instruction given to her.
The response of the lady infuriated the passenger, who raised his voice, saying it is illegal for monies belonging to the Federal Government to be paid to into an individual account. He insisted he won’t pay the money and doesn’t care if the Federal Government seizes his passport.
Other passengers, who had earlier paid and those who were yet to pay, joined the man in asking why they were assigned to different laboratories but were asked to pay in to the same private account. It took the efforts of the security operatives at the airport to calm the riotous situation.
Speaking with Daily Independent, one of the passengers, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised, said the level of impunity in Nigeria is alarming.
According to her, it is only in Nigeria that a mandatory fee demanded by the Federal Government is being paid into a private account.