Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have expressed the dissatisfaction of their observers from different parts of the country with the application of non-pharmaceutical methods of preventing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus through wearing of face masks and adhering to physical and social distancing.
Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation, Dr Benson Olugbuo, made the disclosure on behalf of CSOs at the two-day First International E-conference of the School of Information Technology, Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State.
The conference was chaired by Rector of the polytechnic, Dr Francisca Unoma Nwafulugo while the Dean, School of Information Technology, Dr Onyeka Uwakwe, gave a welcome address.
Dr Christopher I. Ochonogor, senior lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Communication Studies, University of Port Harcourt, delivered the first lead paper on “Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable Development through Communication” while Mr Kossy Ebunilo presented the second lead paper on the topic “E-Learning, Coronavirus Pandemic and Polytechnic Education in Nigeria: The way forward,” among others.
The participants queried the secrecy with which government agencies are managing COVID-19 patients, saying it might lead to secret manipulations and sensitization.
The association said that the stigma linked to the coronavirus had made it difficult for citizens to go for testing unless it is by compulsion or they have become very ill.
Also, the coalition of CSOs have tasked the federal and state governments to complement the current testing process with massive anti-body testing to enable Nigerians to know the extent of exposure of citizens to the Coronavirus pandemic.
They said the antibody testing would not be subjected to undue stigmatisation that is currently hampering tracing, testing, and isolation of infected persons.
They also urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to make public the status of human rights abuses documented during COVID-19 pandemic on a regular basis, while calling on security personnel to focus on enforcement of the prevention guidelines rather than using the enforcement as legalized means of public extortion.
The CSOs, numbering over 30, made the submission at a virtual meeting, yesterday, in Abuja with the topic “Unveiling of Automated Complaint Reporting Database and Training of Human Rights Desk Officers in Nigeria” organised by CLEEN Foundation.
According to the associations, there is the need for the federal, state governments and key stakeholders to intensify efforts at sensitizing rural communities about the COVID-19 pandemic, as many still believe it is an elitist disease that infects only the high-class of the society.