Maurice Iwu, a former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says his team has developed a potential treatment for coronavirus disease.
Although the new coronavirus, named COVID-19, first broke out in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, Iwu, the chief executive officer of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria (BION), a research organisation, said his team had worked on solutions to coronaviruses, such as SARS, since 2015.
He said this when he led members of his team to Osagie Ehanire, minister of health, and Ogbonnaya Onu, his science and technology counterpart, in Abuja on Monday.
Iwu commended the federal government for the efforts to find a cure to the deadly virus.
“Honourable Minister, Sir, I am here to formally brief you about our drug discovery project, which has led to the identification of a potential treatment agent for coronavirus infections,” he said.
“Your Excellency will recall that when the Ebola virus infection broke out in 2014 many people were surprised that our research group had an experimental lead compound that was identified 15 years earlier in 1999.
“And now with the emergence of a novel coronavirus in 2019 as COVID-19 we had identified and patented a possible treatment back in 2015. It is very important that we must remain ahead of these emergent infections through research.
“We have under consideration possible dosage forms including a combination product formulation of the three agents (Rhygyfyn) described in our patents as broad spectrum antiviral drug, identified and developed here in Nigeria.
“We are set to introduce the products but our only limitation is finance. As you well know, science is a very expensive undertaking. I will like to plead with you to use your good office to kindly appeal to Nigerians for their support.”
In 2014, he had said bitter kola could serve as a cure to Ebola virus, a claim which was debunked by the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
Iwu has been associated with several controversies. The 2007 elections he conducted was so controversial that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, one of the beneficiaries admitted that the exercise was flawed.
In October, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned the former INEC boss over allegation of N1.2 billion fraud.
He was accused of aiding the concealment of N1.23bn in the account of Bioresources Institute of Nigeria Limited between December 2014 and March 27, 2015.