A PRIVATE security guard employed to cover shifts at Pendennis Shipyard in Falmouth was banned from returning to work after a three week holiday in Nigeria over fears he might have caught the Ebola virus, writes Natasha Swift.

Security officer Sam Ayodele Ogunnoiki came back from a three-week holiday in the African country — officially declared free of the deadly virus — on Saturday to find a letter from his boss informing him that several members of staff had raised concerns about working with him following his trip.

Mr Ogunnoiki, who has worked for St Austell based Stout Security LTD for eight years, was told by director Trevor Mannell that, to allay colleagues’ fears that he was carrying the Ebola virus back with him, he could not allow him to return to work until he had been back in the UK for at least three weeks.

The letter told Mr Ogunnoiki: “I have spoken to you and expressed my very deep concerns about your trip to Nigeria.

“Several members of staff have now voiced their concerns about the possibility of your carrying the Ebola virus back with you and have made it very clear that they are extremely reluctant to work with you on your return.

“One member of staff has even written a clear and concise letter stating the concerns of your work colleagues.

“In this case, I have to support their concerns — especially as I have already voiced them personally to you. In order to allay any fears that you are a carrier for this deadly virus, I feel I cannot allow you to return to work until you have been back in the United Kingdom for three weeks — which is the incubation period.

“I must also request that you visit your doctor on your return and get a clean bill of health before you can start work with us.

“I am very sorry about this Sam, but everyone works in close proximity together and I have to put the concerns of the majority first.”

Nigeria was declared disease-free on October 20 after a 42-day waiting period following a small outbreak of 20 cases of Ebola, which saw eight deaths.

On Monday, Mr Ogunnoiki, who works as a security officer at Pendennis Dockyard, was told by Mr Mannell that the company had sent him an email stating that they did not want him or anyone who had been in contact with Mr Ogunnoiki since his return from the country working at the site.

Mr Ogunnoiki, from St Blazey Gate, described his employer’s dramatic move as “unbelievable” and said he had been tested in Nigeria for the disease before leaving the country, which had come back negative.

He said his wife, who is em- ployed by the same company, had been allowed to work despite hav- ing been in contact with him since he returned back from Nigeria — which made no sense.

“It’s just discrimination,” said Mr Ogunnoiki. “I have worked at Stout since moving to Cornwall in 2006 when I married my wife, who is English.

“I went to the Port Health Authority and they told me there was no problem with visiting my mother in Nigeria so I went and came back on Saturday. I then got the letter and a text from Mr Mannell saying he couldn’t allow me to return to work in case I had Ebola.

“I was scanned for Ebola in Nigeria and everything came back fine. But my boss told me I must be in quarantine for 21 days and cannot come to work.

“Nigeria does not have Ebola but he said I have to be cleared. There is this stigma surrounding me now. It’s just ignorance and a nightmare because I cannot work.

“I’m a British citizen. My wife does the same job as me and I saw her at the weekend and she has been allowed to work, but if she has been in contact with me she would have Ebola, too. There is no justification for this at all.”

A spokesman from Falmouth and Truro Port Health Authority confirmed to the Voice that no restrictions had been placed on Mr Ogunnoiki as Nigeria had been declared Ebola-free last month.

They said: “A gentleman who has just returned from Nigeria contacted us with an enquiry and asked if we are imposing any requirements on him. We said Nigeria is free of Ebola, so the answer is no.”

But defending his decision to ban Mr Ogunnoiki from working, Mr Mannell said: “I did send Sam a letter saying anyone returning from any African countries for safety reasons cannot work for three weeks afterwards.

“I know Nigeria is Ebola-free but I don’t know where he’s travelled. My problem is that Pendennis, which I have a contract with, sent me an email saying they cannot have anyone working there that’s been in contact with Sam.

“It’s causing me a problem because I have got so much work down there and I need Sam to work.”

Mr Mannell also confirmed that Mr Ogunnoiki’s wife had been allowed to work, but said he did not know if she would be able to now.

He added: “I have to be so careful with this and securing my work at Pendennis as they said they did not want him working or anyone else who’s been in contact. I am taking legal advice and have told Sam to do the same.”

A spokesman from Pendennis Shipyard denied sending an email to Mr Mannell telling him that Mr Ogunnoiki and anyone who had worked with him from Stout Security could not work at the site.

They said: “This really seems like an issue between Stout and their employee. We haven’t made a decision or taken any action that implies a problem at all.

“This is purely between Stout and their employee. Stout are a sub-contractor for us and other people on the docks. This has nothing to do with us.”