Trovan Compensation: No Alternative to DNA Tests

No Comments » March 10th, 2010 posted by // Categories: General Articles



Trovan Compensation: No alternative to DNA Tests 

By Dr. Abdullahi Ibn Mohammed

 

Quite a number of honest commentators on the aftermath of the out-of-court settlement in the Pfizer Trovan case in Kano have been misled into thinking that there is a conspiracy to deny the trial participants the fruits of the litigation championed by the Federal and Kano State Governments.  

I find the perspective of commentators like Emmanuel Onwubiko quite honest even though some of his conclusions are based on half-truths picked up from other sources. Those of us who have been following the Trovan saga from the beginning of the court cases know that the so-called Trovan Victims’ Forum chaired by Mustapha Maisikeli is just a smokescreen for what he described as “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop”. Maisikeli claims that his children participated in the Trovan trials but he is afraid of DNA tests to verify authentic claimants. In the past, he had tried to blackmail Pfizer the same way he had been blackmailing the Kano State Government and the Ungongo Local Government. The Pyramid, a local scandal sheet in Kano had exposed the man as a fraud on account of monies allegedly collected from both the state and local governments during Sallah celebrations on behalf of the patients but that only a fraction of the sum meant for each person actually got to the person. Newspapers later reported that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC, was investigating allegations of fraud against Maisikeli.

 

This Pfizer compensation must get to the intended beneficiaries. Some of us are determined to ensure that that happens no matter the amount of blackmail. Without DNA, how do you verify a genuine participant? Recently we read that Pfizer handed over the files containing the medical records of participants to the Board of Trustees. As at that time, over 600 people had applied as “Trovan victims”. As an educated Nigerian from the Northern part of the country, I know that compensation is an industry from where the unscrupulous usually try to reap. If you cast your mind back to some of the air crashes that happened in this country, you would remember that some of the compensation funds got into the wrong hands because some of our people have no qualms about swindling the dead.  

 

The issue is one of transparency. Do we want to go against due diligence and allow the Pfizer compensation funds to be accessed by rogues? This was the question I answered in my earlier article titled “MRI, DNA and Nigerian Pseudo-Scientists” at https://www.nigerianmuse.com/health/mri-dna-and-nigerian-pseudo-scientists  

 

I recently read in the papers that the Chairman of the Board, Justice Bashir Wali said the so-called Trovan Victims’ Forum is unknown to the Board. That is as it should be because the body is also unknown to the law. The cases against Pfizer were filed by the Federal and Kano State Governments on behalf of the participants and both governments have done the right thing to reach a settlement that would greatly improve the economic circumstances of the patients. The only thing remaining is to verify the authenticity of every claimant. That is all.  

 

Justice Wali himself has revealed that the compensation funds are not in the Board’s account because the agreed process is that Pfizer will release funds directly to verified beneficiaries. The funds approved for the setting up of the secretariat are the only funds accessible to the Board. Without a secretariat, it will be impossible for both the Boards of Trustees (for compensation and healthcare projects) to function. There is a lot of work involved.  

 

To now start blackmailing those who have accepted to serve on the Boards as if they are thieves is unkind. Mark my words, the people to scan with powerful magnifying lenses are the self-acclaimed ‘patriots’ in the so-called TVF who have been distributing photos of disabled people in Kano to media houses as “Trovan victims”. Their first attempt to misinform the world with their 419 scam was done in Der Speigel, the German weekly journal where they showcased one Anas Mohammed as a disabled Trovan victim but it later turned that the young man was in the control group of the trials and was hale and hearty and enjoying his tuwo shinkafa in Kano. Der Speigel subsequently published a retraction and apologised to their readers that they were misled. Come to think of it, how come 600 people are claiming to be Trovan ‘victims’ when only 200 people participated in the trials – and only half of that number were placed on Trovan? Why must we advertise our penchant for fraud in this manner? In a country where billions of Naira are budgeted for sundry works annually only for the money to end up in private pockets, can’t we at least get one thing right and allow rightful Trovan claimants get their just dues? 

 

For Maisikeli and his lapdogs, their doom will be sealed with the results of the DNA tests. We can’t wait to see that happen.

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