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NCDC awarded N43.5 million Adamawa COVID-19 Testing Centre to non-existing company

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THE Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has awarded the construction of COVID-19 Molecular Laboratory Testing Centre in Adamawa State, northeast Nigeria, at N43.5 million to a non-existing company.

Under the deal, NCDC, a government agency established to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to infectious disease outbreaks and public health emergencies awarded the contract to M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited, a fake company that  has never existed, MAWA Foundation investigation has revealed.

Budeshi, a web platform that links budget and procurement data to different public services using the Open Contracting Data Standards, had last year published how the NCDC expended the sum of N43.5 million for the establishment of Molecular Laboratory Testing Centre in Adamawa State, using M/s Malina Pharmaceutical Limited as a contractor.

This publication triggered MAWA Foundation interest, leading to an investigation that revealed NCDC’s contract award to a fake and non-existing company.

MAWA Foundation wrote a Freedom of Information letter to the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, asking it to provide names of the individual owners of M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited and its office contact address.

In response to MAWA Foundation FOI request, CAC in a letter dated 22nd day of December 2020, signed by Maimunat Aliyu, said there is no record of M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited readily available as a registered entity.

 

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However, it asked MAWA Foundation to forward other documents at its disposal to help further investigate the company.

The Foundation wrote and FOI letter to NCDC on the 16th day of December 2020, asking for the report of procurement /tender bid leading to the selection of M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited for the contract award.

Also, MAWA demanded a copy of advertisement leading to M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited’s selection and a bank statement of all payments made to M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited regarding the contract execution.

The NCDC has refused to respond to this request despite a follow-up letter it received on January 18.

When the Foundation sought NCDC explanation regarding a response to the FOI, an official in charge of mails at the NCDC Director-General office, said, the centre has no response.

Also, an NCDC official, who did not want to be mentioned for fear of losing his job, told MAWA Foundation that there was no procurement process followed in selecting M/S Malina Pharmaceutical Limited for the contract. He accused the NCDC senior officials of breaching the procurement process and awarding contracts to their friends. He has called on the anti-graft agency to investigate and prosecute those involved immediately.

Having realized that the COVID-19 Molecular Laboratory Testing Centre in Adamawa State is for the sole purpose of containing the coronavirus which is a public health issue, MAWA Foundation using the FOI, on the 16th December 2020, wrote to the Ministry of Health through the Permanent Secretary, asking it to provide same information it requested from the NCDC.

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In its response to the MAWA Foundation FOI request, the ministry of health in a letter signed by Mr. Muhammad Diri, the Director of Legal Services, appealed to MAWA to be patient while promising to respond soon. But the ministry did not give an exact time when it will respond.

MAWA Foundation’s verification visit to Adamawa

In January, MAWA Foundation visited Yola, the Adamawa state capital to inspect the COVID-19 Molecular Laboratory Testing Centre, NCDC claims to have established.

During the visit, health officials who spoke to MAWA confirmed that the NCDC had not constructed any testing centre in the state. However, there is a collaboration between the state and federal government on COVID-19.

Some of the officials at the Specialist Hospital and Federal Medical Centre Yola, who took MAWA Foundation round the COVID-19 facility, disclosed that the state government established the centres and not the NCDC.

MAWA Foundation found that despite the NCDC’s claim it has spent the sum of N43.5 million to establish COVID-19 testing centres in Adamawa, Mr. Peter Makanto, a Bishop in Upper Room Cathedral Yola donated a 50-bed space for the coronavirus patients to the state government.

A senior official at the Federal Medical Centre told MAWA Foundation officials at Yola; they are aware that NCDC exists but denied effective collaboration with them.

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This is even as he disclosed that 143 COVID-19 patients had been treated at the centre, and no single death was recorded. He revealed that they identify COVID-19 patients through a search by the state surveillance team.

An official of the Adamawa state COVID-19 taskforce team who did not want his identity told MAWA Foundation at Yola that the NCDC did not establish any COVID-19 in Adamawa state, and has since challenged the NCDC to disclose a location it founded a testing centre in the state to fight the coronavirus.

Some medical personnel at the Specialist Hospital and FMC, who spoke to MAWA official in Yola, said they are aware of the collaboration between the state and federal government in the fight against COVID-19, but, they are not aware of any COVID-19 centre established by the NCDC.

In the two COVID-19 Centres visited by the MAWA Foundation official, no single patient was found as the officials claimed they have all recovered and have been discharged.

Mr. Philip who does not want his name mentioned, while speaking MAWA Foundation, disclosed that a good number of the ad hoc health workers in the Adamawa State COVID-19 isolation centre were not paid for three months – from September to November last year and were asked to stop work in December.

This report is supported by the Public and Private Development Centre and Dataphyte.

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

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