Dokpesi directs AIT to stop airing own coronavirus claims

Raymond Dokpesi
Raymond Dokpesi

The founder of DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi, has directed the management of a subsidiary of his company, AIT, to stop airing comments he and his son, Paul Dokpesi, made about coronavirus.

In an internal memo seen by this newspaper and authenticated by an AIT official who does not want to be named, Mr Dokpesi also asked the television station to “bring down” his comments about the disease from its official websites “for now.”

Upon being discharged from the Gwagwalada isolation centre in Abuja last week, Mr Dokpesi had told journalists that he could not differentiate between malaria and COVID-19 because he was placed on dosage of malaria drugs while at the centre.

“I want to be properly educated. What’s the difference between malaria and COVID-19,” he said. “Every medication we were given were malaria drugs.”

He also bemoaned the delays in the release of test results. He attributed this to “dearth of test kits, breakdown of equipment in the laboratory, fatigue and overwork of the health workers.”

His son, Paul Dokpesi, expressed similar views when he recovered from the infection a day later. He said he took the NCDC’s directive only in good faith as he had not seen “any documentary evidence of any test result.” He then urged the NCDC to make available his test results and that of his family members.

In the memo signed by Raymond Dokpesi and dated May 17, he said at the urging of “very senior citizens and elders,” he has agreed to “an immediate truce.”

He said he had been urged to address a “private letter to the president and the PTF on their methods rather than cast aspersions on them thereby creating doubts in the mind of the public.”

In 2016, anti-corruption agency EFCC accused Mr Dokpesi of procurement fraud to the tune of N2.1 billion from the office of the National Security Adviser, said to have been used for the presidential campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party in 2015.

He has since been arraigned alongside DAAR Investment and Holdings Ltd before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on a six-count charge.

The media mogul said his decision to recant his words was to avoid being misconstrued to be using his platform to promote personal agenda or settle political scores “with our perceived political opponents.”

“Leave this fight for another day. Kindly keep all original footages,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, while Mr Dokpesi’s claim about the use of malaria drugs had gone viral, the head of Nigeria’s public health agency, Chikwe Ihekweazu, has said malaria and COVID-19 are “completely different diseases.”

He said because there is no treatment for COVID-19, “what clinicians do is manage symptoms so that the body can recover as quickly as possible.”

“You can have both malaria and COVID-19, he added. “That you have COVID-19 doesn’t prevent you from having malaria at the same time.”

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In the same vein, the national coordinator of the COVID-19 task force, Sani Aliyu, said most COVID-19 patients will show only mild to moderate symptoms and recover, regardless of what they are given.

“So even if you’re taking kolanut, the likelihood is that you will recover from COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean it was the kolanut that got you better,” he told ChannelsTV Sunday.

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