The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Dr Jide Idris, condemned the development in a joint statement on Thursday in Lagos.
According to the statement, the airline brought the remains without all necessary documentations that are required to process its clearance by the Department of Port Health Services, Federal Ministry of Health.
It said that in line with industry practice, a report had been made to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, the regulatory agency of the Nigerian Aviation Industry on the occurrence.
It added that necessary steps were being taken by the regulatory authority to sanction the airline in a bid to prevent recurrences.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria instituted a ban on the repatriation of human remains into the country at all points of entry as a precautionary measure to avoid importation of any infectious disease.
“This ban is one of the interventions we undertook as a nation during the Ebola outbreak.
“The Federal Ministry of Health, Port Health Division issued guidelines to all airlines on the procedures to be followed to obtain a waiver before repatriating any human remains into the country.
“The government will like to reiterate that the ban is still in force and any attempt to contravene this ban will attract serious sanction.
“The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari takes the health of the citizens seriously and will not shy away from wielding a big stick on any errant individuals or organisation,’’ it said.
The statement said that officials of Port Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and Lagos State Ministry of Health investigated the cause of death of the human remains and took samples for laboratory investigation.
According to the statement, the laboratory report shows that there is no evidence of Ebola infection or any other contagious infections in the human remains.
“We assure everyone to go about their normal business without any anxiety.
“The government wants everyone to be vigilant and encourage all our officials at land, sea and air borders to continue screening of international passengers.
“Recently, the World Health Organisation alerted the whole world on the recent outbreak of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Nigeria is keenly following this unfolding event at our sister country. The government of Nigeria wishes the government of DRC success in her fight against this unfortunate outbreak,’’ it said.
The statement said that Lagos State Government in collaboration with the Federal Government through the NCDC and Port Health Services had developed a public health emergency contingency plan at the airport and land borders.
It noted that the state government had put in place control measures, including disease surveillance and notification officers in all the 20 local government and 37 local council development area in the state.
The statement said other measures include reactivation of the isolation wards in the Mainland Hospital and other health facilities and restocking of infection prevention and control commodities.
“I wish to restate the need for the citizenry to follow the general health promotion and disease prevention measures, including proper disposal of refuse and avoiding open defecation.
“Also, regular hand washing with soap and water, maintaining personal hygiene and adequate nutrition are essential in the prevention of the disease,’’ it said.