Ifeanyi Ubah, senator representing Anambra south, says Nigeria has exported over 100 million face masks to Asia illegally owing to coronavirus virus outbreak.
Ubah said this on Thursday while moving a motion entitled “Urgent need to checkmate unpatriotic profiteering and illegal exportation of face masks to Asia”.
The senator said illegal exportation of these face masks has led to an increase in the price of the item.
“Over the last three weeks, face masks have become the most sought after commodity in Nigeria with over 100 million face masks being exported to Asia using Murtala Muhammed Airport and Port Harcourt International Airport,” he said.
“As at 5th November, 2019, stores that usually sell one piece of face mask for N10 now sell it for N80, while a pack consisting of 50 pieces has now been inflated from N500 to N3,000 – a carton consisting of 40 packs is now N120,000 from N20,000.
“Major retailers and suppliers in Asia have been preserving their face masks and reporting surgical mask shortages as a result of the outbreak and while Nigeria has continued to export imported face masks available in shop/stores to Asia and other affected countries.
“It has now become a booming trade for illicit traders aided by airport officials in Murtala Muhammed International airport, Lagos and Port Harcourt International airports to export face masks to China, India and other affected countries.”
The lawmaker said the country could soon face a shortage if nothing is done about the “illegal” exportation.
“Nigeria is on the brink of an imminent outbreak, given our massive population and frequency of travel; and with the looming shortage of protective surgical face masks, we might be on our way to creating a devastating global situation,” Ubah said.
“Nigerians are not adequately abreast and informed of the disastrous modalities and health consequences this deadly virus portends which could be further magnified by the impending shortage of protective face masks.”
His prayer that Ehanire Osaige, minister of health, be summoned to brief the senate on measures taken to prevent an outbreak of the virus, was not taken.
Meanwhile, the disease has killed over 500 people in China so far.