The House of Representatives has condemned the spate of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses especially by security operatives in the enforcement of the lockdown ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari and governors.
At the plenary on Tuesday, the House especially resolved to “condemn in its entirety the abuse of the fundamental rights, especially brutalisation and extortion, and the killing of innocent Nigerians by security operatives enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown across the country.
The House requested Buhari to direct heads of security agencies implicated in the human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings to immediately fish out the perpetrators for prosecution and punishment according to the law.
Also, the House mandated committees with oversight over the security agencies implicated, including the House Committee on Human Rights, to investigate the abuses and killings.
These resolutions were passed following the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by the Deputy Chief Whip, Mrs Nkeiruka Onyejeocha.
Moving the motion, Onyejeocha recalled that on March 29, 2020, the federal and some state governments declared a 14-day lockdown in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun States to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
She further recalled that security agencies, including the Nigeria Police Force, the military, and para-military agencies were saddled with the responsibility of enforcing compliance with the lockdown within the limits of their rules of engagement.
The lawmaker partly said, “The House regrets that within the initial period of the lockdown, security operatives had, according to the National Human Rights Commission, extrajudicially killed 18 innocent Nigerians in Abia, Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Katsina, and Niger states. The House further regrets that as of 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.
“Out of the 18 deaths, the Nigeria Correctional Service was responsible for eight, 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.
“The House further notes that besides the killings, security operatives have also physically assaulted and brutalised innocent Nigerians in the name of enforcing COVID-19 lockdown directive, 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.
“Security operatives have also intimidated and extorted money from innocent Nigerians as in the case of Mrs Nwabuabo Obiajulu and her son, Chukwuweiki, from whom officers of the Nigeria Police extorted the sum of N120,000 on Friday, April 17, 2020, for flouting the lockdown directive in Delta State.”
According to Onyejeocha, Sections 34, 40, 41 and 42 of the Constitution guarantee the right to life, the dignity of humans, and freedom from abuse.
She said, “The House is worried that the actions of the security agencies amount to an abuse of the rights of Nigerians and gross violations of the provisions of the Sections 34, 40, 41 and 42 of the Constitution.