Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Professor of Pharmacognosy, Maurice Iwu has said he and his team have possible treatment for COVID-19 (coronavirus), asking for Nigerians’ support in completing the research.
According to him, he has already signed an agreement with the US Government on the project.
He stated this on Monday when he led members of his team to Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, and Ogbonnaya Onu, his science and technology counterpart, in Abuja in order to make known his team’s efforts toward finding a treatment for the deadly virus.
Iwu said: “We have selected to focus on neglected tropical emergent diseases such as Leishmaniasis, Ebola virus, Dengue fever virus, Chikungunya virus, coronavirus, and Tacaribe virus.
“When the Ebola virus broke out in 2014, many Nigerians were surprised that we had an experimental lead compound that we identified in 1999.
“Now with the emergence of a novel coronavirus in 2019 as COVID 19, we have identified and patented a possible treatment back in 2015, it is very important that we must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research.
“On Thursday last week, the US Government contacted me and we signed a non-clinical evaluation agreement for us to take this product forward, and we are trying to see how we can test this compound immediately against this new virus.
“They are trying set up so we can see if this particular one is inferior to SARS so that the programme will be able to go on.
“We are considering developing the three products together so they become the first broad-spectrum antiviral agent coming out of Nigeria.
“We want to plead with you to appeal to Nigerians for their support so that we can develop our own medicine and have medicine for coronavirus instead of waiting and using that from other places.
“We are willing to make available, the lead compound which we have isolated.”
Iwu who is the Chairman of Bioresources Development Group, got the support of the Ministers.
The Minister of Science and Technology said the ministry had also charged Nigerian scientists on finding solutions to coronavirus, whether regional or international, noting that such problems should not always be left for other people from foreign nations to solve.
“That is why we said that within the resources available to the ministry we are ready to make available N36 million to any scientist who can help us.”
He further said that he was happy that Iwu had already entered into an agreement with the U.S. on this project as regards his patents.
Meanwhile, the ex INEC chairman, Iwu has been associated with several controversies. He was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a four-count charge bordering on money laundering and detained by court order.
According to the EFCC, Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, “aided the concealment of N1.23bn in the account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited with number 1018603119, domiciled in the United Bank for Africa.”