Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw armed troops from enforcing COVID-19 restrictions.
His advice is premised on reports of human rights abuses by troops enforcing regulations and restrictions put in place by the Federal Government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement, yesterday, Falana said:“Last week, some video clips, which were in circulation, exposed the horrendous physical attacks unleashed on members of the public by a number of armed troops.
“The victims of such attacks were alleged to have contravened the COVID-19 regulations. But in a bid to cover up the atrocious infringement of the fundamental right of the Nigerian people, the Defence Headquarters dismissed the video clips.
“Barely 24 hours later, fresh video clips confirmed the brutal murder of Joseph Pessu in Warri, Delta state by trigger-happy armed troops.”
Falana also referenced another video clip where “a couple of soldiers were threatening to rape women and transmit HIV to them.
“However, based on the nationwide condemnation of the brutal killing of Joseph Pessu and the threat to rape women by a bunch of rampaging soldiers the Defence Headquarters turned round to announce that the culprits had been arrested.”
He described the killing as ”unconstitutional,” explaining that no Act, including the Armed Forces Act, empowers security operatives to harass civilians “under the pretext of enforcing any law or regulation whatsoever.
“Therefore, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces should not hesitate to direct the service chiefs to withdraw all armed troops from further enforcing the COVID-19 Regulations.
“Having refused to call the torturers in military uniforms to order, the Defence Headquarters should not be allowed to conduct the investigation.”
Falana advised that the National Human Rights Commission be allowed to take over the investigation from the defence headquarters.