The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described as fake news a claim by the Minister of Information and Culture that COVID-19 positive cases found in the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, camps across the country are high.
HURIWA recalled Lai Mohammed as saying on Wednesday that the number of COVID-19 cases recorded at NYSC camps across the country was far more than reported.
The association recalled that consequently upon what it described as the fictitious claims by the information minister, the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, in a swift reaction, called for suspension of camp activities if the government cannot vaccinate all corps members.
HURIWA also said the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, had earlier told Nigerians that there was no positive corps members in any of the agency’s 37 orientation camps nationwide but the media said Lai Mohammed said if more tests were conducted in orientation camps, “there will be more cases.”
Reacting, HURIWA, accused the minister of spreading fake news and cautioned the Federal Government to adhere strictly to competency and merit in permitting public officials to speak on certain specialised areas, adding that the minister lacks the requisite competences and qualifications to give official statements on COVID-19 even when the President has in his cabinet two qualified medical practitioners as health ministers.
“We believe that the National Youth Service Corps Scheme has adopted strong proactive and preventive measures to keep the participants of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme safe from all infections due to the existence of functional clinics and test kits in all camps as made evidently available by the hierarchy of the scheme,” HURIWA said.
“Is it possible that the NYSC that has organised a series of health related services with an abundant number of young doctors and nurses in many communities benefitting hundreds of thousands of rural dwellers could let down their guards and allow COVID-19 pandemic to swerp through their camps? I don’t think so. The Minister of Information should stop spreading fake news please”.
The association recalled that the management of NYSC had restated its commitment to the welfare of corps members, including the provision of a conducive environment to enable them develop their potentials for national development.
HURIWA also carpeted the NMA for calling for the closure of NYSC camps due to the fear of COVID-19 and challenged the medical body to conduct evidence based research on COVID-19 in the camps before jumping to any sort of conclusion which is unscientific and speculative.