Nigerian professor Cyril Otoikhian has challenged the Nigerian government and other scientists working on COVID-19 to prove the virus’ presence in the region.
In a Monday morning program on Channels TV, the genetics professor at Novena University, Delta State, surprised his interviewees when he claimed that the virus did not exist because there was no established proof to support its existence.
Mr Otoikhian claimed there was secrecy around the country’s disease diagnosis. He said this meant there was no disease.
He claimed the controversy in Cross River State, where the government declared that there were no COVID-19 cases within its jurisdiction for a prolonged time, was expected as the federal government was not transparent in its handling of the pandemic.
Lot of unscientific statements have been made regarding the presence of COVID-19 in Nigeria and elsewhere.
After he recovered from the disease, Raymond Dokpesi, founder of DAAR Communications, owners of African Independent Television and Raypower FM, said the disease was not much different than malaria.
Although Mr Otoikhian is a scientist and scholar, however, his argument seemed to have surprised his interviewees and this reporter felt absolute disbelief in their eyes as the professor responded to questions.
The lecturer remained unconvinced that given the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizing it as the infectious disease that ravages the world, COVID-19 still exists.
Before the epidemic started in Wuhan , China, in December 2019, the virus and the illness it caused were unknown.
COVID-19 is now a pandemic which affects many countries worldwide. Nearly 12 million people were infected by the disease and 541, 086 of them died.
Nigeria recorded more than 29,000 confirmed cases as of Monday, and 654 deaths.
Prof Otoikhan’s theory of COVID-19 non-existence
Despite the increasing figures of confirmed cases and deaths related to the disease, the professor of genetics claimed the virus is not real.
“Why can’t they bring whatever they are doing indoors, outside? Mr Otoikhian said. “You say that it is real, then show it to use that it is real. If you bring it outside, then we set a flat table and all the scientists are there, the reagents and the camera is before everybody.
“Then let’s see what COVID-19 is, whether it exists. I have asked severally, let them bring somebody that is positive to COVID-19 and someone that died from COVID-19, carry out an autopsy on the dead body, show me exactly what you are calling COVID-19 inside the body or the positive person of COVID-19.”
He said “the developed world (is) already possessing the truth about COVID-19.” He did not elaborate on who and who owned COVID-19’s nonexistence.
Mr Otoikhian said all about COVID-19 indicates that this is not real.
He argued that the disease does not exist because “if after all the analysis is done, and COVID-19 is a virus and the first recommendation in the treatment term came from someone who is not a physician who recommended chloroquin.”
Contrary to the claims that COVID-19 is not real, a virologist, Akayala Ishaku, who also spoke on the program, said that, apart from the fact that the WHO declared the virus an international pandemic, evidence from samples and deaths of prominent people in the country showed that the virus was real.
He also argued that the number of global deaths is pointing to the fact that the disease does exist, especially in Europe and the US.
Mr Ishaku said that science is about evidence and putting together evidence to produce results.
“Science is not mythology or extrapolations, or heresy,” he said. “What you have to do is bring the facts on the table. COVID-19 is real. It has been established that it is a viral infection and the first outbreak was in 2019, in Wuhan China.
“It has also been established that bats are the reservoir for the virus and that the virus undergoes certain mutations and then transmitted to humans and has been established that there is human to human transmission.
“If anybody claims within the faculty of knowledge that COVID-19 is not real, then he should tell us what is real. If in the palace of knowledge, you are not agreeing with a pre-positions or postulation, then you must come up with your own postulation.
“Then you must come up with your postulation and bring up empirical evidence to establish what they feel is COVID-19 or not,” he said.
Mr Ishaku argued that over 700 journals including the Lancet medical journal and Nature established that there is COVID-19.
He also said that in Nigeria, the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), at the Redeemers University, Ede, Osun State, headed by Christian Happi, a professor, has done some genomics studies establishing that COVID-19 is real in Nigeria.
He said that the study established the disease is real and that Nigeria has over 20 clusters of the virus in the country. “If COVID-19 is not real, do you think that the world will close down airports and lose billions of dollars?” he said.
Mr Ishaku said claims such as the one being pushed by Professor Otoikhian have exposed “the vulnerability in our communication system and thereby throwing up the issue of trust in the system.”
Not much is known about Professor Otoikhian’s education, research works and how he grew to become a professor.
He has no online profile including on the Novena University website where he is teaching. No academic journal came up when its name was plugged into Google Scholar.
When Mr Ishaku called attention to the lack of articles on journals from Mr Otoikhian, the professor claimed that those who do not like him might have deleted his publications from the internet.