NIGERIA’S National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has revealed alarming statistics showing that the country’s security forces have killed more people for defying the government’s lockdown order than have died from the coronavirus pandemic itself.
According to World Health Organisation statistics, only 373 have been infected with the dreaded Covid-19 virus in Nigeria, of which 11 have sadly died. However, a total of 18 people have been killed by the security forces for being in breach of the government’s lockdown order according to the NHRC.
Despite the pandemic not being brutal in Nigeria, the government has announced several preventative measure, including a total lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory. Police and soldiers have been drafted on to the streets to enforce the lockdown and many of them have been over-zealous in carrying out their duties.
Tony Ojukwu, the NHRC executive secretary, said a majority of the victims were killed during attempts to enforce the coronavirus lockdown and similar regulations. In a report published today, the commission said that in addition to the reported extra-judicial killings, the security agencies have carried out 33 incidents of torture, 27 incidents of violation of the right to freedom of movement and unlawful arrests, 19 incidents of seizure of properties and 13 incidents of extortion.
Mr Ojukwu said: “There were eight documented incidents of extra-judicial killing leading to 18 deaths. Out of this number, 12 deaths were recorded in Kaduna State, Abia State recorded two deaths, while Delta, Niger, Ebonyi and Katsina States recorded one death each.
“The report further shows that out of the 18 deaths, the Nigeria Correctional Service was responsible for eight, while the Nigeria Police Force was responsible for seven deaths. The Nigeria Army on the other hand was responsible for two deaths, while the Ebonyi State Task Force on Covid-19, Afikpo South Local Government Area was responsible for one death.”
He added that the fatalities speak volumes of the protocol and rules of engagement for Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies and their efficiency level to deal with citizens. Mr Ojukwu said that while the NHRC will ensure justice for victims of human rights abuses, it has developed a mobile application to monitor and document such violations.
“It’s a sheer display of impunity and reckless disregard for human life in law enforcement by security personnel,” he added.