The Presidency has raised an alarm that some members of the House of Representatives who recently returned from foreign trips may be posing serious threat to the safety of Nigerians by their refusal to subject themselves to screening at the nation’s airports.
The Presidency, in a letter dated 21st March, 2020 informed the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila about the report from the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, informing the Presidency on the refusal of some House members to subject themselves to screening at the airports as directed by health officials.
The letter signed by the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, asked the Speaker to direct all members of the House who recently returned from trips abroad to report to the nearest Nigeria Center for Disease Control(NCDC) office with immediate effect for screening.
The letter reads: “The Honourable Minister of Health, recently reported to this office that some members of the House of Representatives are refusing to subject themselves to medical screening at airports.
“As you are aware, these airport screenings are our primary line of defense and refusal by any citizen to subject to these tests is a threat to our nation.
“Accordingly, you are kindly requested to direct all members of the House of Representatives who returned to Nigeria from foreign trips to report themselves to the nearest NCDC test centre with immediate effect.”
Spokesman of the House, Hon. Benjamin Kalu told newsmen that he has seen the letter circulating online, stressing that it would be unpatriotic for anybody to refuse to go through the screening process.
He stated that since there are cameras at the airport, official should go through the camera to identify all those who returned to the country recently and refused to be screened, so that they can be traced and made to go through the screening.
Kalu said the letter from the Chief of Staff to the President was a wake up call for all Nigerians, adding that coronavirus was real and should be taken seriously by all irrespective of status.
“There is a screening process at the airport that is supposed to be obeyed by every patriotic citizen of this country irrespective of your status. It doesn’t matter whether you are the president of the country, a senator or a member of the House or a governor.
“Health is very important. If yours is not important to you, that of others is important to them and any negligent act by being careless might affect a whole lot of Nigerians. The call from the Presidency through the Chief of Staff is potentially a wake up call.
“The House will not feel that he was trying to pine on them what they are not. If there are those who did it, they should desist. Whether you are a House of Representative member or not, it doesn’t matter. Everybody is expected to subject himself. I am sure he sent that same letter to the Senate. It could be Ministers or Senators, there is nothing wrong about that.
“Yes, I have seen that letter being circulated online. What I am taking away from that letter is that people should make efforts to comply with this particular heath policy and I am not seeing anything wrong with that letter.
“Adding my voice to what the Chief of Staff said, Members or Senators or whoever you are, comply with the simple instruction because this virus is real and does not care about your status. So, let us humble ourselves, wait a few minutes and pass through the checks.
There is not humiliating in going into isolation if need be. You must save your family, friends and the people you wok with. I think it is the patriotic thing to do and I commend the Chief of Staff to the President for rising that alarm and writing that letter.
“People should not misinterprete the letter because it is not an attack on the House of Representatives. The content of the letter is what should be taken which is that everyone should be careful no matter who you are.
“I carry my hand sanitizer and when I come in, I go through the process. They are very respectful and professional about what they do. I don’t know why any body should claim to be a member of this or that and not subject himself or herself to such screening.
“The truth is that it is unpatriotic for you not to pass through the screening. It is unpatriotic to the nation and such persons should be penalised. They should be arrested.
“Those people who pass through there without screening should be arrested and be properly checked before being released so that we don’t allow anyone who has this virus into circulation. We don’t even know who has this virus right now and so, we have to take extra care,” Kalu said.