The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has chided various security outfits for their response and attitude to the civil populace since the coronavirus lockdown regimen was announced in Lagos, Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory late in March, 2020.
In a release issued by the Anti-Corruption coalition on behalf of its Executive Chairman, Mr Debo Adeniran and signed by its Coordinator, Media and Publications, Adegboyega Otunuga, he stated, ”The National Secretariat of our organization, CACOL, has been inundated with reports and complaints from family and relations of victims of extrajudicial killings, state harassment and other forms of insecurity and viciousness by men and officers of diverse security outfits in the country since the official declaration of lockdown in some states of the federation as necessitated by the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country late in March and revalidated barely 24 hours ago. Just this Wednesday, a commercial vehicle driver, Amobi Igwe was killed by a trigger-happy officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps named, Eke Richard. This incident was reported to have occurred at the toll-gate area of the Umuahia-Aba Expressway in Umuikea-Isiala South LGA of Abia state while the victim was conveying food items that included rice and tomatoes to Aba. The NSCDC Officer was alleged to have demanded a bribe from the driver, who reportedly refused to part with any money.
“Though the state Commandant of the NSCDC, A. C. Nwannukwu, confirmed the incident in a statement, stating that the driver from Ishiagu in Ebonyi State, was not conveying foodstuffs and allegedly refused to stop when asked to do so while his man only shot at the vehicle’s tyres that unfortunately hit the driver, our ever reliable eye-witness account confirmed the security outfit was just being economical with the truth as the number of casualties later rose to two in the bid of the security officer to escape mob reaction from the angry crowd. The situation was not different in most other states of the federation just as the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has reported that law enforcement agents killed 18 persons while enforcing the lockdown ordered by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the COVID-19. The NHRC disclosed this in a report on the first phase of the lockdown, from March 30 to April 13. The commission said a total of 105 complaints bordering on rights violations were received from 24 states during the first phase of the lockdown.
“Within same report, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Tony Ojukwu, revealed how complaints came from the Federal Capital Territory, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross Rivers and Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, Ekiti, Delta Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Plateau and Rivers states. He clarified how the complaints received and documented by the NHRC within the period include cases of extrajudicial killings, violation of right to freedom of movement, unlawful arrest and detention, and seizure/confiscation of properties. There were also cases of sexual and gender based violence, discrimination, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and extortion.
“It is irony of maladministration and wrongful indoctrination and orientation of our security forces that, ‘Whereas, COVID-19 has led to the death of about 11 patients to date (Wednesday), law enforcement agents have extra judicially executed 18 persons to enforce the regulations. This speaks volumes of protocols and rules of engagement for our law enforcement as well the efficiency level and capacity of law enforcement agents to deal with civil population.’
The National Coordinator of CACOL added, “We watched with dismay, video clips of people who ventured on road walk during lockdowns being asked to do frog jump while some had to swim inside muddy gutter for being caught in a crowded place. While social distancing and other critical measures were desirable means devised by index nations on COVID-19 to tame the pandemic, their law enforcement agencies in those nations were civil and friendlier in handling violations and executing compliance by the civil populace. This is because; the pandemic is not synonymous with death sentence or terminal pronouncement on our humanity. In actual fact, it strikes at our very chord of collectiveness and unity for us to defeat and overcome this and any other social or medical threat on our existence. Even the President and Commander-in-Chief of the federation, Muhammadu Buhari noted this much, when he vilified some overzealous officers for mistreating the civil populace to compel compliance on same lockdown order.
“The undue infractions clearly underpin the words of the late Cuban leader, Fidel Castro when he said, ‘An untrained and uneducated military or any security officer with a gun is exactly like an armed robber’. Unfortunately, the various agents of Nigerian state perceive their rules of engagement as a mode of an army of occupation that lords it over a conquered people rather than paid security officers in the service of fatherland and that must remain subservient to the civil populace. “Aside from the fact that CACOL would continue in its patriotic duty of compilation of all these assaults and misuse of firearms against Nigerians for necessary action after the lockdown, we earnestly call on the minders of all these security apparati at different levels of security managements, to immediately set up the machineries for bringing all these observed lapses to a halt, investigate and deal with recalcitrant officers with their just dessert to serve as a worthy deterrent and not to portray the country as a banana republic.” The statement said.