Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Salako, says he is looking into the scandal raised by a viral video indicting a NIMR official of corruption.
Salako made the statement via his official Twitter handle on Tuesday.
“A video has been circulating on social media creating the impression that Fake COVID-19 result can be secured from NIMR.
“This is to inform the general public and our friends that this will be thoroughly investigated. NIMR does not stand for such behaviour and it will not be tolerated,” he said.
The video, uploaded on YouTube, indicted an official of NIMR drive-through testing centre of extorting about N35,000 to abet travellers seeking COVID-19 certificate.
The drive-through initiative, in partnership with LifeBank, a healthcare technology and logistics company, was set up on March 30, 2020, to provide free COVID-19 test after online registration.
In the video clip, the indicted official could be heard on phone haggling over service charges with a supposed client.
He claimed that if the client could visit the drive-through test centre on a special arrangement, it would cost her N30,000 and N35,000 if she preferred having the result delivered to her.
The viral video has caused panic at the research institute, with many staff describing it as a targeted attack on the institute.
A researcher at the institute, Dr. Tajudeen Bamidele, called for a probe to ascertain the veracity of the report.
“Our core values at NIMR abhor this. Let it be investigated,” he said.
NIMR Research Laboratory Technician, Ganiu Idris, also believed that the report did not put the institute in good light, considering what it stood for.
“This is a targeted report aimed to tarnish the image of an institution that has helped many Nigerians who couldn’t afford the cost of COVID-19 test set up by the State and many private laboratories.
“Imagine how many Nigerians that have been tested by NIMR,” he said.
When called on phone to authenticate the report, Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Prof. Babatunde Salako, said the allegation was still being investigated.
“They should provide us with their evidence, since they are unwilling to give us a copy of the said COVID-19 result as well as the GSM number of the indicted official.
“We are having an emergency meeting tomorrow [Wednesday].
“Already, a committee has been set up to look into it and determine if it happened in NIMR.
“If it happened at the institute, we will fish out all the culprits and deal with them according to the extant laws guiding the operations of the institution,” he said.
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