The Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation has uncovered how the National Primary Health Development Agency (NPHCDA) officials collect N5000 and issue COVID-19 cards without vaccination.
Under the arrangement, those who want the COVID-19 card and do not want to take the vaccine are made to pay N5000 and above while the card will be issued to them without taking the vaccination.
Investigating the corrupt practice, MAWA staff using an undercover approach, pretended to be in need of a COVID-19 card, and engaged NPHCDA officials covering the Gwagwa area of Abuja.
When MAWA staff demanded the COVID-19 card from the NPHCDA official, he disclosed that it could be given without vaccination at the price of N5000.
The NPHCDA official provided an Access Account number where the money will be paid. And, assured that as soon as the money is paid, a certified COVID-19 card will be issued without vaccination.
When asked how the card can be authenticated to know if it is genuine and not fake, he said there will be a text message from the NPHCDA showing you have been enrolled, while the card can be scanned when issued for a certified authentication. A text message came into the MAWA staff telephone less than 20 minutes after he paid the money.
To have iron cast evidence showing that the NPHCDA actually engages in such corruption that puts people’s lives in danger, MAWA staff paid the sum of N5000 to the Access Bank account number provided by the official and was issued the COVID-19 card without taking the vaccination.
Residents of Gwagwa who spoke to MAWA Foundation said that NPHCDA officials issuing COVID-19 cards without vaccination has since become a common practice in their area.
They, however, said some of them paid as cheap as N1,000 to be issued the COVID-19 card without taking the vaccination.
“In this Gwagwa, people do not take vaccine before getting the COVID-19 card, just go to the centre pay money and it will be given to you without taking any vaccination,” Mr. Johnson Ejima told MAWA.
Mr. Philip Agba, a Gwagwa resident who described the action as wickedness, called on the NPHCDA to immediately investigate and punish its officials who are engaged in an act he said is dangerous and must not be allowed to continue.
Mr. Issac Ejigbo while speaking to MAWA Foundation, narrated how he paid the sum of N5,000 to be issued a COVID-19 card by the NPHCDA officials without taking the vaccine. He, however, disclose that they are many who had paid money and were issued the COVID-19 card without taking the vaccine.
According to him, they are paying to get the card because, they were told, in the future anybody without the COVID-19 vaccination card will not be allowed to travel abroad or get an international passport or driver’s license.
Worse still, the Nigerian government through the NPHCDA has continued to undertake awareness campaigns on the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine while urging the citizens to go to any designated centre of their choice to take the vaccine without paying any money.
What this means for the Nigerian state is that not everybody carrying a COVID-19 certified vaccination card was actually vaccinated.
When MAWA Foundation sought an explanation from the NPHCDA regarding issuing COVID-19 cards without vaccination, they declined to comment and did not respond to an email sent to them.