The management of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital(UBTH) are in for a tough legal battle with a rights activist, Patrick Eholor, President of the One Love Foundation, a non-profit making concern.
Eholor is taking the legal step to curb what he calls extortion and outright corruptive practices as regards Covid-19 testing procedure as adopted by the UBTH.
Narrating his ordeal at the hands of staff of the Teaching Hospital on Eholor said he was compelled to cough out a whopping N30,000 for the test and another N375 for a pseudo administrative costs.
In his words, “I will soon be traveling overseas and in strict compliance with acquisition of Covid 19 certification, I went to UBTH to undertake the compulsory test only to be asked to pay N30,000 as test cost.
“As if that was not insulting enough because health is supposed to be free for every Nigerian, as enshrined in the Constitution, I was literally forced to pay the N30,000.
“On getting to the Cash Registry I was told that there is a service charge for additional N375. I asked what that was for?
“The Cashiers said it was government regulations. That the hospital management is partnering with some firms who process their forms.”
The activist said he sees the action of the hospital management as “fraudulent and preposterous. I saw a lot of people, even children, there who were helpless, as they were unable to pay the excess charges for the Covid-19 Test.
“So, I am compelled to take them to court. I am going to sue the hospital’s management to make them explain to us why they are putting the burden on us. Because I also know that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed that no service charge should be more than 65kobo in any transaction.
“I know that over time the CBN has directed that COT and other excessive charges be reduced considerably to stop exploitation of the public by bankers who thereafter invest the funds to buy properties in high brow estates abroad.”
Eholor says this corruption must be stopped, while those who are partnering with government to perpetuate this evil must be investigated as the ordinary citizens of this great nation are very pained hence he is instituting the legal process to address the issue.
He said he has briefed his lawyer, a Abuja based legal luminary, Ihensekhien Esq, to file an action against the UBTH and CBN to explain to the public why they are exploiting innocent Nigerians.
Eholor, who presented copies of the payment vouchers to newsmen, said it would have been very calamitous if he could not complete the process of the Covid-19 test as he did not have the extra cash on him and he had to plead with one Miss Gladys, a total stranger to him, who agreed for money to be transferred into her account at the hospital, where she then withdrew the money for him to pay for the test.
He asked if he did not meet that lady or could not afford the cost? Would he have not suffered unjustly like others?
He likened the situation at the UBTH to the contract at the Lekki – Epe Toll Gate and others where an influential elite received all the royalties and remit pittance to the government which led to the alleged massacre during the recent #EndSarS protests.
On whether he found out from the management of the hospital whether the controversial charges were official, Eholor said he indeed made a lot of enquires at the hospital and nobody said anything contrary.
He said he was going to report the matter to the , Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, the Senator representing his Constituency, Edo South Senatorial District, Pharmacist Mathew Urhoghide and the member House of Representatives, representing Oredo Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama for quick intervention to prevent more people from suffering the same humiliation and deprivation.
He said he wants them to as a matter of urgent public importance look at the problem as other countries are conducting this Covid-19 test for free, emphasizing the dreaded monster was still killing people globally.