By Evelyn Usman
To enforce the stay-at-home order of various governments following the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic security agents from relevant government agencies with the Police as the lead agency have been deployed for this purpose.
However, in a display of high-handedness, some policemen were seen in a video that went viral, destroying goods in some parts of the country. Figures released early this week show that they have killed more Nigerians during the period than the coronavirus scourge.
A video clip showing the destruction of some goods in a Lagos shop attracted outright condemnation from different quarters.
One of the critiques of this act, was Monday Ubani, the immediate past second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association, who urged the IGP to ensure that the policemen caught in the trending video were not only arrested and prosecuted but also ensure that the trader should be compensated.
Two days after the video went viral, the Lagos State Police Command issued a statement, saying that the policemen involved in the showdown had been arrested and were undergoing Orderly Room Trial. But their names and ranks were never released and the outcome of the trial yet to be disclosed.
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Another video of a man who gave his name as Imokew Henry Jones , from Umunze , in Orumba South Local Government Area of Anambra State went viral on Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
He was seen complaining that he was on his way to withdraw some money in the bank, when some policemen on enforcement duty, shot at his two tyres, on the grounds that he violated the stay-at-home order.
He said that he explained to the policemen that he needed money to feed his family and came to withdraw money. The policemen, he said, insisted on taking bribe and when he refused one of them shot at his two tires.
There were other pockets of harassment by security agents across the country, while enforcing the sit-at-home directive
To checkmate activities of policemen, the Police boss, IGP Adamu, cautioned officers to ensure that the rights of Nigerians were not infringed upon, under any pretext.
He also stressed that persons on essential duties, duly exempted from the restriction orders, should be accorded due courtesy and unfettered access to and fro their places of duty.
Despite the admonition to security agents, the nation, has witnessed killings of its citizens by these law enforcers.
The first killing that greeted the enforcement occurred in Warri, Delta State, two weeks ago, after one Joseph Pessu, a father of two was shot dead by a soldier for allegedly flouting the state government’s sit-at-home order. This incident happened on the second day of the sit-at-home directive in the state.
His death sparked up protest as irate youths took over the expressway, preventing vehicles from taking that route. Two Military personnel on a motorbike who ran into the mob were attacked and their motorcycle burnt. One of them was killed in the process.
The killing of the Military personnel was seen as an affront by some of his colleagues who threatened to avenge his death. The soldiers in a video that went virile boasted that they would rape all the women in Warri, be they married, single or aged and in the process infest them with HIV aids
But the Military in a swift reaction, said the soldiers in the virile video had been arrested and would undergo disciplinary measure.
As was the case of the arrested policemen in connection with the destruction of a trader’s wares in Lagos, the outcome of the investigation into these soldiers brazen display of unprofessionalism is yet to be made public.
Another killing recorded since the sit-at-home directive, occurred in Kaduna state, four days after that of Warri, Delta state.
In this case, seven persons were killed in Trikania, Sabogeri Nasarawa, under Chikun Local Government Area of the state, during a clash between youths and a police team enforcing the stay-at-home order in the state.
Trouble as gathered, erupted after attempt by a Civilian Joint Task Force to disperse some traders was vehemently resisted.
In the Police attempt to forcefully disperse the traders, some shots were fired and in the process, seven persons were gunned down, while five sustained bullet wounds.
In Anambra State on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, two youths were allegedly shot dead by policemen, at the New Tyre Market Area of Nkpor while enforcing restriction of movement.
According to an eye witness, the youths were drinking beer in a pub in front of their house when the police patrol team drove by and ordered them to go to their houses. The youths according to eyewitnesses told the policemen that the place was their compound and demanded why they would be ordered into their rooms.
Another version of the account said that the youths were accosted while returning from a football pitch. During the ensuing argument, the cops, opened fire on them. One of them died on the spot, while the other died moments after being rushed to an undisclosed hospital.
But the Anambra State Police Command said that the shot was fired by one of the policemen, Corporal Christopher Ozor, in his bid to repel some youths who attempted to collect his firearm.
Next day, being April 16, 2020, in Abia State, one Amaobi Igwe, a commercial vehicle operator , who was conveying food items into the state was shot dead by an officer of the Nigerian Security Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC at Umukai Junction in Osisioma Local Government Area of the state.
An argument which ensued between the deceased and one of the NSCDC’s officers, ensued, over the later’s refusal to part with an undisclosed amount of money , reportedly led to his death.
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, has expressed worry over killings by security agents, saying the number of deaths recorded since the sit-at-home directive was more than those killed by the dreaded disease itself. It’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu said during the week that Whereas COVID-19 had killed about 11 people as at Tuesday, a total of 18 people were illegally executed by law enforcement agents since the lockdown started. He said that about 105 complaints/incidents of human rights violations have been documented within the initial period of the lockdown.
Since the country began the process of battling the pandemic, her citizens have vented their anger, hunger, and frustration in many ways.
This could be seen through the attacks on citizens, especially in Lagos and Ogun states.
But this attack was further extended to security agents, which unfortunately led to the killing of policemen and soldiers.
One of such death was recorded in Warri, Delta state, where a soldier was killed.
In Anambra State, some youths said to be protesting the killing of one of their own, attacked a team of policemen on routine patrol, this week.
In the process, one of the policemen was said to have been attacked with acid. A woman police, was also seen in a video that went viral being attacked by the youths. As at the time of writing this report, the acid victim was being attended to at the hospital.
Police station burnt
Also, last month in Kusada area of Katsina state, protesting youths besieged the divisional police station and razed the official quarters of the Divisional Police Officer, including seven vehicles, 10 motorcycles and several items including new electricity transformers .
The protesters who were followers of one Islamic cleric, were protesting his arrest , for flouting the state government directive on social gathering.
However, the command said about 100 persons were arrested in connection with the arson.
While security agents are expected to carry out enforcement of government’s directive with a human face, Nigerians on the other hand, are expected to abide by the sit-at-home directive, which will help against the spread of the pandemic.