The House of Representatives on Tuesday directed heads of security agencies to bring to book officials indicted for human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings during the lockdown across Nigeria.
The House also condemned the spate of rights’ violations during the lockdown and mandated its relevant committees to investigate the matter and ensure that justice is done.
These resolutions followed a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by the deputy chief whip, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (APC, Imo).
As one of the strategies to curb the spread of COVID-19, various state governments declared partial or total lockdown in their states. President Muhammadu Buhari also ordered a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja and recently, Kano.
The National Human Rights Commission reported that while the lockdown lasted, incidents of human rights violations were rife.
In the first two weeks of the lockdown, the commission said no fewer than 18 Nigerians were killed extrajudicially by security operatives across the country, less than the 11 that had died from COVID-19 at the time.
A followup report by the commission released Tuesday added that another 11 persons were killed extrajudicially between April 13 and May 4 by security agencies and other non-state actors enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown.
While presenting her motion, Ms Onyejeocha condemned the grim death numbers and called for an investigation into the killings. Her motion was adopted.
“Security operatives have also physically assaulted and brutalised innocent Nigerians in the name of enforcing COVID-19 lockdown directive,” she noted.
“As evident in the case of one Ms. Tola Azeez who was physically assaulted and brutalised by Inspector Ikuesan Taiwo and Constable Abass Ibrahim in Iwo, Osun State, in early April,” she said. The police said the men have been dismissed.
The lawmaker also cited instances of some Nigerians being intimidated and money extorted from them “as in the case of Mrs Nwabuabo Obiajulu and her son, Chukwuweiki, from whom officers of the Nigeria Police extorted the sum of ₦120,000 on Friday, April 17, 2020, for flouting the lockdown directive in Delta State.”
These, Ms Onyejeocha noted, are violations of sections 34, 40, 41 and 42 of the Nigerian constitution which guarantee the right to life, the dignity of humans, and freedom from abuse.
Meanwhile, there was also a report of a citizen physically assaulting some security operatives. As shared in a viral video by the police, a woman identified as Kehinde Afolake was seen assaulting a police officer in Oyo State.
He however warns against any unprovoked attack and assault on police officers while in the course of their duties as perpetrators will be made to face the full wrath of the law. pic.twitter.com/4eO9gv9UEd
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) May 3, 2020
The woman claimed her action was in retaliation of an earlier assault by the policeman.
The police claimed that “the said woman also assaulted two female police officers, Inspr. Ojola Abiola and Inspr. Queen Eguaoje, and gave one of them (a) human bite,” adding that some police stations were also set ablaze in Katsina and Abia states.