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Published On: Wed, May 13th, 2020

Lock down: Reps want killer security operatives prosecuted

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By Christiana Ekpa

The House of Representatives Tuesday condemned in its entirety the abuse of the fundamental rights, brutalisation and extortion and the killing of innocent Nigerians by security operatives enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown across the country in general and Abia State in particular.
The Green Chamber equally want President Muhammad Buhari to direct heads of security agencies implicated in the human rights abuses and killing of innocent Nigerians to immediately fish out the perpetrators for prosecution and punishment according to law.
The resolutions of the Lower Chamber was as the result of a motion on “Urgent Call for Immediate Stoppage of Human Rights Abuses and Extra-Judicial Killings of Innocent Nigerians by Security Operatives in the Course of Enforcement of Covid-19 Lockdown sponsored by Hon. Nkeiruka C. Onyejeocha (Abia APC) and Hon. Dachung Musa Bagos.
The female Lawmaker while moving the motion recalls that security agencies including the Nigeria Police Force, the military and para-military agencies are saddled with the responsibility of enforcing compliance with the lockdown within the limits of their rules of engagement having regard for human rights of the citizens.
“Regrets that within the initial period of the lockdown, security operatives had, according to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), extra-judicially killed 18 innocent Nigerians in Abia, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger States;
“Also regrets that as at April 13, 2020 when the lockdown was extended for another two weeks, that figure was more than the total number of Nigerians killed by the virus;
She Informed the house that, of the 18 deaths, the Nigeria Correctional Service was responsible for eight, adding that, Nigeria Police Force was responsible for seven, the Nigerian Army was responsible for two, while the Ebonyi State Task Force on COVID-19, Afikpo South LGA was responsible for one;
“Notes that in the second phase of the lockdown, precisely between April 15 and 23, 2020, officers of the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps killed seven more persons in Abia, Anambra and Rivers States;
“Worried that the case of Abia State has assumed a more worrisome dimension with the brutalisation of the people and killing of five innocent persons namely; Onyemazu Chibueze of Isuochi Umunneochi LGA on April 4, 2020; a petrol station attendant in Ogbor Hill, Aba on Monday 6 April 2020; Amobi Igwe, a commercial motorist in Umuikea, Isiala Ngwa South LGA on Wednesday 15 April 2020; Ifeanyi Arunsi of Ebem Ohafia on Friday 17 April 2020; and one other person in Uratta Junction, Aba also on Friday 17 April 2020;
“Also notes that beside the killings, security operatives have also assaulted innocent Nigerians in the name of enforcing COVID-19 lockdown directive, as evident in the case of one Ms. Tola Azeez who was assaulted by Inspector Ikuesan Taiwo and Constable Abass Ibrahim in Iwo, Osun State in early April and some Security operatives had also intimidated and extorted money from innocent Nigerians as in the case of Mrs. Nwabuabo Obiajulu and her son Chukwunweiki from whom officers of the Nigerian Police extorted the sum of N120,000 on Friday 17 April, 2020 for flouting the lockdown directive in Delta State;
“Aware that Sections 34, 40, 41 and 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), guarantee the rights to life, the dignity of human person and freedom from abuse;
“Worried that the actions of the security operatives amount to abuse of the rights of Nigerians and gross violations of the provisions of the above Sections of the Constitution;
“Further notes that while authorities of the Nigeria Police Force may have acted swiftly in some of the cases of abuse such as the trial and dismissal of Inspector Ikuesan Taiwo and Constable Abass Ibrahim for assaulting Ms. Tola Azeez, that has not been the case with the killings, especially in Abia and other States, despite several petitions to the heads of the security agencies;
“Also worried that the response of the police authorities has neither been replicated by the other security agencies whose personnel implicated in the killings nor has been severe enough to serve as deterrents in an environment of gross human rights abuses by security operatives;
“Again worried that the continued killing of innocent Nigerians by security operatives is undermining the genuine intentions and casting negative aspersions on the efforts of the Federal and State Governments in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic;
“Believes that the House of Representatives and indeed the National Assembly can do a lot to safeguard and enforce the protection of the fundamental rights of innocent Nigerians including their rights to life and the dignity of the human person from abuse by security institutions of the states” she said.
The House however mandated it’s Committees on Police Affairs, Defence, Interior and Human Rights to investigate the abuses, killings and to ensure the implementation of its resolutions.

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