23.3 C
Abuja

INVESTIGATION: How corps members falsify medical documents, feign illness to bypass NYSC protocols

Hospital staff complicit

Advertisement

Related

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Share this story

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) mandates every prospective corps member to submit a medical fitness certificate on arrival at camp for the 3-weeks orientation course. The scheme also grants corps members with certain illnesses the concession to relocate to another state. This investigation reveals how corps members falsify medical documents to deceive camp officials at the orientation camps. Nurudeen AKEWUSHOLA reports.


In April  2019, tragedy struck at the  NYSC orientation camp in Bauchi state when 28-year old corps member, Magdalene Yohanna, collapsed during exercise.

Efforts to resuscitate her proved abortive as she eventually died at Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi.

The NYSC while debunking allegations that it concealed her death explained that Magdalene had presented a ‘clean bill of health’ medical fitness certificate whereas she was asthmatic.

The NYSC has said that some corps members with peculiar health challenges conceal their health status and attempt to participate in the orientation exercise which is always rigorous and strenuous.

This challenge makes it impossible for the scheme to appraise their fitness or otherwise before subjecting them to rigorous camp activities and mobilising them for youth service.

The ICIR findings show that some corps members obtain medical fitness certificates from online vendors who forge the documents for a token.


- Advertisement -

READ ALSO:

INVESTIGATION: How humanitarian ministry diverted multi-million naira rural women grant to personal accounts  

FLASH POINTS: How driving in Abuja can be dangerous

Women in Borno reclaiming livelihoods through tomato processing


A few days before her reporting date for the orientation course, 24-year old Omolara (not real name)  went to the University of Ilorin teaching hospital to make enquiries about the process of obtaining a medical fitness certificate and she was told it would take her about two weeks.

Before going for the enquiry, Omolara had been advised by her friend who is an ex-corps member to obtain it from online vendors as it is cheaper, faster and less rigorous to obtain.

One of the adverts posted by Abdulkareem Muhammad Saminaka on Facebook.

She eventually patronised an online vendor and the certificate was sent to her mail within 24-hours. This she presented at her orientation camp in Ebonyi state.

- Advertisement -

“I got it [medical fitness certificate] in one WhatsApp group. There was a guy who was advertising medical fitness certificates in a WhatsApp group that I was in at that time. I don’t even know the guy, he only asked for my details after I made the payment and he sent it to my e-mail. I did not go to any hospital before I got my medical fitness certificate,” she explains.

Another corps member serving in Kaduna State also told The ICIR that he got his through Facebook.

“I did not even step outside before I got it from the person. I just provided the necessary information I had: genotype, blood group, height, weight and they just put negative to all other viral load tests like Hepatitis, HIV and others,” he told The ICIR

Encounter with peddlers of  fake medical documents 

Findings by The ICIR led us to several Facebook and WhatsApp groups where medical documents are issued indiscriminately and those who issue the medical certificates forge certificates of various medical centres in Nigeria as a result of a lack of effective means of checking, corps members get away with it.

The ICIR worked with a young man who knew about these fakes and how to obtain them. For the purpose of anonymity, he will be referred to as Abdulwasiu.

Abdulwasiu reached out to some of the vendors advertising the medical documents on social media and findings revealed that it takes at most 24 hours to obtain these medical documents without undergoing any test.

Epueke Mmaduka Mathew is the admin of “NYSC Batch A, B, C 2022” and one of the vendors of fake medical fitness certificates.

- Advertisement -

When Abdulwasiu reached out to him, he asked for his full name, age, sex, genotype, blood group, state of residence and e-mail and attached it with his account number meant for the payment of N2,000 to obtain the certificate.

“If you are ready, please do, I don talk pass work wey I wan do. Aren’t you on the Facebook page? If I am a scammer, you will see people already dragging me in the group,” he replied while trying to assure this Abdulwasiu of its acceptability at NYSC camps.

“More than hundreds of corps members have done this already. Pay N2,000 to this account and  I’ll send you the PDF file once you make payment,” he added.

After Abdulwasiu sent the details and filled SS as the genotype, the vendor rejected it, advising the young man to use AA or AS to avoid being caught and if he wishes to relocate, he needs a medical report.

Barely 12 hours later, a medical certificate with a clean bill of health was delivered via WhatsApp.

A fake medical fitness certificate obtained from Epueke Mmaduka Mathew

Another medical certificate vendor is Mustapha Habib Akande, the admin of ‘NYSC 2022 batches PCMs’ group on Facebook.

Like Epueke, Mustapha also requested Abdulwaisu’s details and the hospital he would like to use and assured him that it would be delivered within a few hours.

As promised, Mustapha delivered the document via WhatsApp for a fee of   N1,500.

The document was later found to be a forged medical fitness impersonating the National Hospital Abuja.

He also told Abdulwasiu to reach out to him if he needs a medical report for redeployment purposes. He sent a forged copy of a medical report from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital as evidence.

“In case you need a medical report also, we will give you the best and also guide you on how to defend it for redeployment,” he said.

Medical fitness certificate obtained from Mustapha Habib Akande an online vendor.

“We will give you a medical report of a government-approved hospital that will stipulate an ailment as an excuse that it’s bothering you and then when you have used a week in camp, redeployment form will come out and you will apply and use medical option as an excuse.”

Abdulkareem Saminaka was found on Facebook claiming that his medical fitness certificate is valid and acceptable at any NYSC camp. For N1,000, he delivers a certificate. When Abdulwasiu sent him a message on Facebook, he asked him which state he resides and when this Abdulwasiu said Abuja he suggested General Hospital, Kubwa in Abuja.

Higher cost, long process at National Hospital, Abuja

To examine the due process of obtaining a medical fitness certificate and to verify the authenticity of medical fitness certificates obtained from online vendors, Abdulwasiu went to National Hospital Abuja and General Hospital, Kubwa and the result of the findings show that the ‘purported’ medical fitness certificates being issued online are forged and yet accepted by the NYSC.

Unlike N1,500 being charged by online vendors, it takes about N10,000 for a new applicant and at least two weeks of various tests to obtain a legitimate medical certificate from the National Hospital.

When Abdulwasiu arrived at the hospital, he was asked to obtain a hospital card at the General Outpatient Department (GOPD) which cost N2,500 for his details to be recorded on the hospital database and to make a payment of N1,500 for the consultation fee to see the medical doctor.

Forged medical report of a Lagos State University Teaching Hospital obtained from Mustapha Habib Akande an online vendor.

After the consultation, he was directed to the laboratory and asked to make a payment of another N4,800 for blood and urine tests. The result came out after three working days.

After which Abdulwasiu was referred to the Radiology department to undergo an X-ray test. This again costs N2,500 and the result came out after one week.

The different test results were submitted to the doctor who now issued the medical fitness certificate.

Despite going through the formalities and due processes at the National Hospital Abuja, Abdulwasiu was able to get a medical fitness certificate for a non-existent corps member – Aderemi Sunday Adeniyi  This implies that anyone could obtain a medical fitness certificate for someone else in the hospital and the same goes for several other hospitals visited.

When contacted, the deputy director/ HOD of information and protocol management, National Hospital Abuja, Tayo Haastrup, confirmed to The ICIR that the medical certificates of the hospital circulating online are fakes.

The doctor states that the hospital doesn’t issue medical certificates online.

He however added that many government agencies and organisations reach out to them to authenticate certificates, but they have not had cases like that from NYSC.

General Hospital Kubwa gives certificates for N3000 and no test

The intention of going to General Hospital Kubwa was to verify the authenticity of the copy of their medical fitness certificate obtained online but instead, The ICIR encountered underhand practices at the hospital.

Abdulwasiu was referred to a mid-age nurse who identified herself as Binta.

Kubwa General Hospital Entrance. Photo Credit: Nurudeen Akewushola/ICIR

Binta who was garbed in a floral gown asked why he needed the medical report. When she found out it was for NYSC, she called him aside and told him he can get it for  N3,000 without undergoing any medical test.

The only information she requested was a name, after which she entered an office and came out with the medical fitness certificate.

Medical Fitness Certificate Obtained from General Hospital, Kubwa without undergoing any test.

“You have to keep this thing inside your pocket, don’t implicate me abeg. Had it been you get this thing through a normal process now, it would be fine,” she said as she folded the paper and handed it to Abdulwasiu

The ICIR investigation shows that the copies of medical fitness certificates – National Hospital Abuja and General Hospital, Kubwa – obtained from online vendors do not tally with the ones obtained from the hospitals, evidence that the online vendors forge these documents.

The ICIR observed that both hospitals fail to comply with the Nigerian Medical Association’s directive which states that a medical fitness certificate or medical report issued by health care centres should be affixed with a doctor’s stamp, to check for quackery.

The Implication

A medical fitness certificate is an essential medical document that states the status of the bearer’s medical condition or certifies that the bearer is free of contagious diseases.

The ICIR gathered that the  NYSC made the document compulsory in 2016 to ensure the safety of corps members at the orientation camps following the outcry over the death of three corps members who died during the exercise.

To curb the proliferation of fake medical documents, the scheme noted that a medical fitness certificate or report being brought by corps members must be duly signed by a registered medical practitioner from a recognised government healthcare centre and be affixed with the stamp of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).

“This is to inform PCMs and serving CMs that henceforth medical fitness/medical report submitted to us must be affixed with Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) stamp. This is to authenticate the reports and curb quackery. You are all advised to strictly comply with this directive,” NYSC stated in a tweet.

However, The ICIR findings show that while many Nigerian hospitals issue medical documents without NMA stamps, the NYSC has also failed implementation of the directive paving way for the use of fake medical documents.

In an interview with ICIR, Samuel Babatunde Oluseyi, a physician at the department of family medicine, Kogi State Specialist Hospital,  explained that falsifying a medical document is an act of fraud noting that users of the falsified medical documents may face legal and health consequences.

“The issuer is supposed to be arrested and prosecuted but as it is in Nigeria, the law has not been effective. Some time ago, the Nigeria Medical association spoke about it on the floor of the national assembly but nothing has been done on it,” he adds.

A medical fitness certificate obtained from National Hospital Abuja after undergoing multiple tests.

Samuel noted that NMA introduced the “doctor’s seal”,  four years ago to sanitise the profession. which is meant for each doctor to sanitise the process but many hospitals have not been adhering to it.

“The seal is meant to be for each doctor,  the doctor buys it from the NMA and the client pays for it. The problem we have in our facilities is they don’t want doctors to be collecting money from the clients and they don’t want to buy the seal for the doctors,” he said.

He urged the NYSC to make it compulsory for every prospective corps member to have the doctors seal on their fitness certificates and transmit the same to government hospitals to comply. This he explains will enable the scheme to trace the doctor that issued any certificate, thereby making confirmation easier.

***

The NYSC routinely posts thousands of corps members to various states across the federation outside their states of origin, corps members willing to relocate on health grounds are required to obtain a form at the orientation camp and attach a medical report stating the nature of their ailment.

They would thereafter be required to appear and defend their health challenges before the medical panel before their relocation can be approved — a measure introduced by the scheme to ensure that the information they provided is genuine.

However, The ICIR findings show that the method has not been effective as several corps members still bypass the process by faking illness and using fake medical reports obtained from forgers and even hospitals.

Some corps members who spoke with this reporter acknowledged forging medical reports and lying about their health status during the panel session to relocate to their state of choice.

One of them, Ali, who was posted to Jigawa state and later redeployed to Oyo state said he obtained his medical report from a hospital that states that he is asthmatic and also went to camp with Asthma drugs to corroborate his claim.

“You can go to any hospital or clinic and get a medical report, they will tell you the amount they are [doing] it and they will just put one illness there and use their professional knowledge to add some information.  In my own case, it was Asthma that I put there. They [NYSC panel] just asked about the drugs that I was using for it and I showed them,” he states.

Muheeb, 25,  a corps member posted to Cross River state also said he faked illness because he felt it was risky travelling from his state of origin to where he was posted to.

He had heard that a corp member was shot while on transit. “Apart from that, I’m a Law student, I haven’t been to Law school yet. I need to up my game. Staying somewhere close to where I can easily get my registration done will be very good for me, that’s why I lied to them that I have Ulcer and I cannot stay in the state and they granted my relocation,” he adds.

More corruption at General Hospital Kubwa

After Abdulwasiu came out of the admin office at General Hospital Kubwa where he obtained a medical fitness certificate, a young man, James (Surname withheld), an indigene of Akwa Ibom state and a prospective corps member who was posted to Kwara state came to collect a medical report.

Binta had agreed to issue James a certificate saying he is asthmatic.

He was coming back from withdrawing the N5000 fee when he met Abdulwasiu staring at the medical certificate in front of the office.

Kubwa Hospital staff typing the details of the medical report

Unaware that Abdulwasiu was undercover, he moved and asked if he wanted to do a medical report to which Abdulwasiu nodded in affirmation.

“I was posted to Kwara State and I have never been there before. I don’t even know where to stay after leaving the camp and if I want to do it (re-posting) now they will be charging like N50,000 to N70,000. That’s why I want to do a medical report,” he opened up.

He said he was billed N10,000 for the service but he negotiated to N5,000 adding that he was referred to the hospital by some of his friends who had also obtained their medical reports and used them as evidence to apply for concessional relocation.

After Nurse Binta finished processing James’s medical report, Abdulwasiu went to her again to obtain the medical report. She asked for N10,000 but after much negotiation, agreed for N5,000 while noting that she will fill asthma as the ailment

A medical report obtained from Kubwa General Hospital without undergoing any test or examination.

“When you reach the camp, they will ask you all if there is anyone that is having ailment, you will just bring it out and you will be redeployed to the state of your choice,” she said after handing over the medical report to this report.

General Hospital Kubwa reacts…

When contacted, Jimoh Isiaq, the head of SERVICOM at Kubwa Hospital insisted that the hospital does not issue out medical certificates without due process.

“We don’t do that here. We are not aware of it at all. In most cases, any medical certificate that goes out from this hospital is subjected to authentication. We get calls from ministries and parastatals such as the Nigerian army, EFCC. Anybody is at the liberty to come and cross-check whether a medical certificate comes from the hospital or not. We have our mechanism. They bring the medical report, we check and we will tell them if it’s from us or not”.

On whether NYSC has ever reached out for authentication, he said; “To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know. We have synergy with NYSC, they come here to check whether corpers posted here are doing well and if they haven’t absconded and recently concerning NHIS. Officially, if you have any document that you have doubt on, you will come here, you will bring it and we will check. I don’t think they have because if they have they would have come to check like this one how does it come to be.”

When presented with the medical certificates obtained from the hospital, he said the hospital will do its investigation.

“This is very great! I can assure you that I will take the matter to the management for investigation. I will inform the medical director that people come from your organisation. We will sit down and look into this,” he said.

With N5000, a healthy person can be epileptic at Wuse District Hospital

On Thursday, March 24, around 2 pm,  following the direction of the gateman at Wuse District Hospital in Abuja, Abdulwasiu headed straight to the entrance where he met a civil defence officer who appeared to be in her late 30s.

She said a medical certificate would cost him N10,000 if he wished to get it through a shortcut.

Wuse District Hospital. Photo Credit: Nurudeen Akewushola/ICIR

“There is a way that takes a long process and there is also another way we can do it that they can fast-track it for you,” she responded.

“If you want to get a medical this thing now, you will spend N12,000 to N14,000 but there are people I can take you to that knows how to fast-track it, so that you won’t be coming and wasting transport every day. These people know how to do it, they know how they do it with doctors in charge,” she said looking right and left to ensure that nobody was eavesdropping on our conversation.

She took Abdulwasiu to meet a light-skinned man called Sunday who appears to be in his early 50s.

Sunday insisted it would cost N7000 but this Abdulwasiu declined.

Meanwhile, the officer said she would take Abdulwasiu to someone who else would do it cheaper.

“That one that was saying you should bring N7000 is too proud and likes money too much. I will take you to Ibukun. I pray he is around. But you will have to give me a token too. That’s where we also get money to buy recharge cards,” she said after we both came out of the office.

According to her, Ibukun works at the audit office but when we checked him, we didn’t meet him in the office. So, she led Abudlwasiu to an office close to the gate where there a security officer stays.

She asked Abdulwasiu to sit down and called Ibukun who would process the medical report. After about 30 minutes, Ibukun, a thickly built dark-skinned man who appeared to be in his late 30s arrived, some parts of his green native dress were drenched in sweat.

“How much did he say he will be paying ?” he said, turning to the civil defence officer.

“He said it’s N5000 that he has,” the officer responded.

“Let him make it N10,000,” he said as he used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe off sweat from his face.

“I didn’t know that it would be up to that. In fact, I just told someone to send me the money a few minutes ago, please let me pay N5,000. I would do the transfer to you,” replied this Abdulwasiu.

Ibukun rejected the offer to make payment via transfer and suggested the use of the POS vendor outside the hospital instead while asking for name and age to be written down on a sheet of paper.

“There was one guy I did it for when he wanted to do NYSC and after he got a job. The guy even referred a lot of people to me,” he said while recounting how he has done it for several people in the past.

“Which one would you like to use? Should I put Epilepsy or Asthma or what should I put there?” he asked. “It seems like there is one person that you have done Epilepsy for before? ” the civil defence officer asked, bursting into a peal of derisive laughter.

After about 30 minutes, Ibukun came back with the stamped medical document stating that Abdulwasiu is an epileptic patient. The report added that he was diagnosed two years ago and he is currently on antiseizure drugs.

Medical Report obtained from Wuse District Hospital without undergoing any text or examination.

“You just need to have confidence. You won’t be scared. They will interview you and ask questions like how do you feel? You can say sometimes you just fall down and lose consciousness and you won’t know what’s happening around you again, you will just see that people are carrying you and because of that you normally feel ashamed.”

“If you have money, you can buy some drugs and carry it along.”

“People there are human beings. You just have to defend it and if you have money, you can give it to the people in charge, you will just say they should use it to buy something, it is simple! ”

Wuse District Hospital reacts…

The secretary of Wuse District Hospital, Sanni Hannatu insisted that the hospital does not issue out medical certificates without due process.

When presented with the medical report for epilepsy obtained from the hospital, she said; “When we check our system, if it is issued from the hospital, it will be on our database. The names and other information will be on our database. It’s only authentic ones that are recorded on our database. You have to come with the hospital ID card and we will check and if the person obtained it from this hospital his information will be there.

“We are not saying there are no fake ones. People will sit down and do whatever they want to do. Even the hospital stamp that you are showing me can be forged. What I know is that if you come here you will run the test before you get the medical certificate.”

On whether the NYSC reaches out for confirmation, she said; “They don’t call me, my number is not on them. I don’t know maybe they have always called any other person in the department but nobody calls me.”

Position of the law on use of fake documents

Use of fake documents contradicts item 16 of the scheme’s code of conduct as stated in the NYSC bye-laws ( As Revised in 2011) that “any [corp] member who brings forged documents for registration shall be reported to the police for prosecution.”

By extension, section 467 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria also states that “ Any person  who forges any document, writing, or seal, is guilty of an offence which, unless otherwise stated, is a felony, and he is liable if no other punishment is provided, to imprisonment for three years.”

Paragraph (1) (a) and (b) of the section adds that “When the thing forged is a public seal, the offender is liable to imprisonment for life.”

NYSC reacts…

The Director-General of NYSC, a major general,  Shuaibu Ibrahim while addressing the corps members in March at NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Fanisau, Jigawa State warned corps members against presenting fake medical reports for the purpose of obtaining concessional postings.

He added that any corps member caught doing so would face the full wrath of the law.

When contacted, the NYSC deputy director, press and public relations Emeka Mgbemena states that the scheme has enjoined corps members to desist from presenting fake documents as any person caught will be dealt with according to the bye-laws.

On the effort of the scheme to curb the proliferation of fake medical documents especially in seeking concessional relocation, he said “It is not that we are not aware that some people have been coming up with fake certificates and we do our  investigations and whenever we investigate and we discover that somebody has used a fake medical certificate, of course, such relocation cannot be granted.”

“This thing is always on and this is due to the incidences of the proliferation of fake medical certificates. But let me tell you, we always do our investigations before we accept relocation based on health grounds. There’s a medical panel/board set up at the orientation camps that are made up of medical doctors in the camp who will investigate. The corps members will be asked to face the panel and they will ask questions concerning the supposed ailment they claim to be  suffering from.”

“We do our checks and like I told you, it is always there on our social media,[the] warning to prospective corps members not to procure fake documents to apply for relocation,” he added.

When asked on whether the scheme is aware that some hospitals issue out medical reports to corps members without any ailment, he said ““That’s why I told you that it’s not that we are ignorant of the fact that corps members come up with fake (medical documents). It could be from the hospital. But most times, the person that they purport to have signed the document did not sign. If you go and get a medical report, the consultant must put everything about him there including the licensed number.”

When asked why the scheme permits medical fitness certificates not affixed with NMA stamps, he said they are working on it and it is classified for now.

“We have been checking them but it’s not something I can’t be telling you because it’s a classified information.”

The names of corps members interviewed in this story were changed or a single name was used to protect their identities.

Author profile

Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice and good governance. You can shoot him an email via nyahaya@icirnigeria.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.

Support the ICIR

We invite you to support us to continue the work we do.

Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation

3 COMMENTS

  1. I’m going to discuss a few reasons why practice is important to mastering skills. Firstly, the only way to truly learn a skill is by actually doing what you’ll have to do in the real world. Secondly, I think practice can be a fun way of putting in the necessary hours. There are, however, some people who will disagree. Thirdly, and most importantly, it is said that people tend to remember only 10-20% of what they read or hear. Moreover, that number rises to as much as 90% when you put theory to practice. In conclusion, following up explanation with practice is key to mastering a skill get your past question and answers

  2. I’m going to discuss a few reasons why practice is important to mastering skills. Firstly, the only way to truly learn a skill is by actually doing what you’ll have to do in the real world. Secondly, I think practice can be a fun way of putting in the necessary hours. There are, however, some people who will disagree. Thirdly, and most importantly, it is said that people tend to remember only 10-20% of what they read or hear. Moreover, that number rises to as much as 90% when you put theory to practice. In conclusion, following up explanation with practice is key to mastering a skill

  3. I really don’t see the point of NYSC right now, you travel to a different state.

    Facing troubles on roads, hoping you don’t get into accidents, the country isn’t even safe but it’s still going on.

    We were told that NYSC is a way to unite the nation, well it’s been years, lots of years and the nation is still divided.

    I know this comment won’t end NYSC, but after going through it myself, I don’t want anyone else to face it. But of course there are those who see it as a time to catch fun and do whatever they want.

    We’ve seen people that just go to camp, sign a few documents and leave because they’re “special”. In other words, they are related to “someone”.

    Please the program isn’t useful. I got to meet cultists cause of NYSC. It’s a mess. Only existing because of the money that is made. It should end.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Advertisement

Support the ICIR

We invite you to support us to continue the work we do. Your support will strengthen journalism in Nigeria and help sustain our democracy.

Advertisement

Recent

Buhari okays Seplat’s buy of ExxonMobil’s Nigeria unit

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has okayed and granted consent to Seplat’s acquisition of ExxonMobil’s Nigerian...

State pardon: Ex-govs Dariye, Nyame released from prison

FORMER governors of Plateau and Taraba states, Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, were released...

CWG 2022: Nigerian female athletes outperform male colleagues

AS the Commonwealth Games ends, Nigerian female athletes have outperformed their male colleagues by...

Okada riders embark on violent protest over raid by FCT task force

COMMERCIAL motorcyclists, popularly known as okada riders, on Monday embarked on a violent protest...

2023: Court sets September 7 to hear certificate forgery suit against Tinubu

THE Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed September 7 to hear a...
Advertisement

Most Read

Advertisement

Subscribe to our newsletter

Advertisement