The Nigerian Government has asked its citizens in the United Kingdom, who wish to be evacuated back home during the COVID-19 pandemic, to pay N160, 000 to a "Nigerian doctor" to conduct tests on them before returning to Nigeria, SaharaReporters can confirm.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on April 2, 2020 directed all its missions abroad to compile a list of Nigerians willing to come back home.
Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed that this was sequel to requests received from Nigerians stranded abroad amid the Coronavirus pandemic.'
She however, said that the MFA had instructed that “the financial implications will be borne by the prospective evacuees, who will be compulsorily quarantined when they returned”.
Despite the declaration that it will quarantine all evacuees on arrival, the government in an email asked all intending returnees to first do a COVID-19 test in the UK.
Confirming the directive, Sola Kingsley, a Nigerian based in the UK, told SaharaReporters that, "These guys are Nigerians visiting the UK on holidays or business trips for goodness sake.
"Now the Nigerian Government is asking them to do a COVID-19 test in the UK where the government is asking people not to go outside their homes for anything apart from very essential stuff.
"How then does the Nigerian Government expect these same folks to go out for a COVID-19 test?
Also reacting to the development, another Nigerian based in the UK told SaharaReporters that carrying out such a test at this time was impossible.
He said, "They know very well that the NHS will not and does not do the COVID-19 test randomly here anyway. Even the NHS doctors and nurses are not all being tested due to lack of kits.
"Where then does the Nigerian Government get the wild idea from that the same NHS will somehow prioritise Nigerian tourists, who are non-citizens of the UK for COVID-19 tests?"
In what seems like a deliberate orchestration, the Nigerian Government provided an alternative, a Nigerian doctor in the UK it said will conduct the test for £350, the equivalent of N160, 000.
"Most of the people stranded here are those on short business trips and it seems the high commission is aware of it so they want to exploit the situation.
"The majority have already paid for return tickets as part of prerequisites to get to the UK, many have run out of money for even food because of how the situation turned out, so it is unfortunate that Nigeria will ask them to pay for COVID-19 test and flight tickets at a time when they are supposed to bring their citizens back home and quarantine them for mandatory period," another source said.