MINISTER of state for labour and employment Festus Keyamo has promised to pursue the case of the young man in Delta State who was shot dead by soldiers yesterday for defying the lockdown introduced to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Delta State governor Ifeanyi Okowa had ordered people of the state to stay at home in a bid to tackle the spread of Covid-19. A taskforce made up of policemen and soldiers was subsequently deployed to enforce the order but it has since emerged that the security agents have been using excessive force to deal with anyone found out on the streets.
Youth found on the streets have been beaten, whipped, make to swim in gutters and subjected to all forms of humiliation by the security forces. In the commercial city of Warri, things took a turn for the worse when a young man identified as Joseph Pessu was shot dead by soldiers around the Ada-Val Areyenka junction in Ugbuwangue community in Warri South Local Government Area of the state.
Mr Keyamo, a lawyer, who himself is from Delta State, said he vows to forward a petition to the relevant authorities to investigate the killing of Mr Pessu and ensure that the officer or officers involved are made to face the wrath of the law. Before being appointed a minister Mr Keyamo used to be a human rights lawyer catering for victims of abuse.
“I have received disturbing reports and images of the high-handedness and shooting of innocent citizens by men of the armed forces deployed to enforce the Covid-19 lockdown in my state, Delta State. Specifically, I have received reports of the killing of an innocent young man, Mr Joseph Pessu in Warri.
“I unreservedly condemn this barbaric act by men of the armed forces who should exercise restraint when dealing with the civilian populace. I will be forwarding a petition to the relevant authorities to thoroughly investigate this murder and bring the officer(s) to book. In the interim, let us not take the laws into our hands, please.
“I will also use this medium to sincerely appeal to my brothers and sisters in Delta State to be law-abiding and obey the orders of restrictions imposed by both the Delta State Government and the Federal Government. They are lawful orders and they are for our own good.
“Images and reports of attack on law-enforcement agents by the civilian populace do not help our cause. I call on all and sundry in the entire country too to exercise the utmost restraint at this point,” Mr Keyamo added.
Already, the Delta State government has ordered an investigation into the death. Charles Aniagwu, the Delta State information commissioner, said they were worried about the report of the killing by security agencies on patrol.
He added: “The state government has sent a delegation to the family of the deceased young man to condole with them over the loss of their son. Military authorities have also been contacted to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the killing.”
Nigeria’s deputy senate president Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has also condemned the act, describing the incident as extra-judicial killing. Senator Omo-Agege is the lawmaker representing Delta Central Senatorial District.