Romanus Ugwu, Fred Ezeh and Molly Kilete, Abuja, Aloysius Attah, Onitsha, Ben Dunno, Warri
The lockdown ordered by the federal and various state governments to flatten the coronavirus curve have claimed no fewer that 21 lives across the country.
The figure showed that death resulting from “high-handedness” by security agents have claimed more lives than the global pandemic. At press time, yesterday, COVID-19 had killed 11 persons in Nigeria.
In the last 48 hours, two persons were reportedly shot death at Nkpor, Idemili North Local Government Area, near Onitsha, Anambra and Sapele in Delta State.
This is in addition to the list of 18 fatalities released by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Tony Ojukwu, NHRC executive secretary, said majority of the victims were killed during attempts to enforce the lockdown and similar regulations.
Apart from loss of lives, the lockdown has recorded various human rights abuses mostly by policemen, the NHRC said in its report.
The commission said in addition to the reported extrajudicial killings, the security agencies have allegedly carried out 33 incidents of torture, 27 incidents of violation of right to freedom of movement, and unlawful arrests, 19 incidents of seizure of properties and 13 incidents of extortion.
“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 also recorded two deaths arising from two incidents 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 8 deaths while the Nigeria Police Force was responsible for seven deaths.
“The Nigeria Army on the other hand was responsible for 2 deaths while the Ebonyi State Task Force on COVID-19, Afikpo South LGA was responsible for one death.”
Ojukwu said 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.
“It’s a sheer display of impunity and reckless disregard for human life in law enforcement by security personnel,” he added.
He also said while the NHRC will ensure justice for victims of human rights abuse, it has developed a mobile application to monitor and document such violations.
In Anambra, a witness said trouble started at Ezego street, Nkpor when some boys returning from football training in a nearby primary school field were accosted by policemen drinking in a nearby restaurant.
The source said the boys resisted attempt to bundle them into their vehicle, leading to exchange of words before the police allegedly opened fire killing one of the youths instantly while the second who sustained gun shots wound died while being rushed to the hospital.
However, Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Command, Haruna Muhammed, said security agents acted in self-defence.
“It was an unprovoked attack on police patrol team with substance suspected to be acid by some miscreants. They snatched the rifle of the policeman after pouring acid on him which prompted the other policeman to use force to retrieve the rifle. Investigation has commenced while efforts are ongoing to restore sanity in the area” he said.
In Delta, a protest by a group of women following the extension of the lockdown by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa led to one of the women lying critically ill in hospital following gun wounds from a policeman who tried to disperse the crowd.
A witness said the victim, who was part of the protest, “was shot at a close range on both legs by a trigger happy policeman despatched to restore normalcy in the area.”
The policeman was said to have immediately taken to his heels, leaving his service rifle behind in a bid to avoid mob attack.
Delta State Police Commissioner, Hafiz Inuwa, said police were on the trail of the suspect in order to intensify investigations into the matter.
Security agents battle Abuja residents, drivers, traders
in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), residents, cab drivers and traders have devised means of bypassing roadblocks mounted by security agents following the second phase of a two-week lockdown ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The residents who complained that the promised palliatives by the FCT Administration were yet to get to them, 16 days after they were compelled to stay at home, said their new approach was part of measures to survive the excruciating hardship.
When Daily Sun visited some places in Kubwa, Gwarimpa, Utako and Wuse Districts, it was observed that cab drivers had returned to motor parks, with passengers in large numbers even amid the travel restriction in the FCT.
Some of the cab drivers told Daily Sun they bribed policemen to pass the suffocating roadblocks mounted across the city and the suburbs.
Andrew, a cab driver, said he shuttles between Kubwa and Utako and had to increase fares to raise more money to bribe security manning roadblocks.
When Daily Sun visited some markets in the the FCT, it was also observed that the 10am-2pm order that markets should be opened to residents on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, wasbeing flouted.
Meanwhile, the FCT Administration has revealed plans to create mobile courts to try erring residents. It has also reviewed the lockdown order to minimise the spread of the virus.
“While the level of compliance has been satisfactory at the Federal Capital City (FCC) over the first few days of the lockdown, the same cannot be said about the satellite towns located at the various area councils where residents have largely ignored the lockdown directive.
“However, over the past few days, adherence to the lockdown directives at the City Centre has also deteriorated. Residents have used the excuse of going to the markets to flout the lockdown directives and traders selling non-essential food commodities have also used this window to open their shops in clear violation of the directives not to do so. Mobile courts will now be activated to try all violators of the directive on the cessation of movement across the FCT.
Motorcycles (Okada) are henceforth barred from operating anywhere in Kubwa and Dutse Alhaji during the lockdown.”
Residents in the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are also continuing with their business paying little or no attention to social and physical distancing directive put in place.
Daily Sun monitored the compliance in Mpape, Lugbe, Gwagwalada and Kuje communities and reports that several of the residents flooded the roads and trooped into markets without resistance from security and monitoring teams. At the Mpape community, the stay-at-home order and social distancing order was flouted, apparently because of the high population density in the area.
Residents of Kuje equally threw caution to the wind as they emptied into the two popular markets to restock their foodstuff.
At the Kuje Primary School, hundreds of beneficiaries of the government Social Intervention Programme, gathered in disregard to the social distancing order. It was, however, worse at the ATM centres in Kuje as bank customers, numbering over 70 queued for several hours to withdraw cash. It was the same scene along the Musa Yar’Adua Road as every bus stop sheltered lots of passengers waiting for commercial vehicles.
IGP reads riot act
However, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has issued a warning to transporters to desist from night travels or face prosecution.
Adamu, who gave the warning in Abuja, said the action of the transporters was hampering efforts of the government to tackle the spread of the virus.
The IGP in a statement by the police spokesman, Mr. Frank Mba, maintained that the lockdown was for 24 hours and called on the leadership of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) and the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association to call their members to order.
APC promises to crush robberies, looting
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has reassured Nigerians that the crimes that have been recorded in some parts of the country as a result of the lockdown will soon be crushed.
The party in a statement by Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu warned that it will not tolerate extra-judicial killings by any community in the name of protecting itself, cautioning the citizens that no level of hardship should push them into crime and criminality.
“In line with the directives of President Buhari during his broadcast on Monday, a major and coordinated offensive by the Police, Army, Navy, Airforce and DSS is underway against the miscreants,” he said.