18 people killed as Nigeria enforces measures to curb coronavirus
Nigeria security agents have killed 18 people in their enforcement of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, the National Human Rights Commission said in a report.
The death toll caused by the security operatives is higher than the number of people killed by the coronavirus in Nigeria. Current figures from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says 12 people have died out of 407 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari declared a total lockdown in megacity Lagos, Ogun State and capital city Abuja since March 29.
The lockdown, the government said, will be enforced by security forces, including police and army, has sparked deadly confrontations in some states.
In a report released late on Wednesday, the National Human Rights Commission said it had received and documented “105 complaints of incidents of human rights violations perpetrated by security forces” in 24 of Nigeria’s 36 states and Abuja.
Of these complaints, “there were 8 documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths”, it said.
“Whereas COVID-19 led to the death of 11 victims, law enforcement agents extrajudicially executed 18 persons in the cause of the enforcement regulations,” it said, referring to the official death toll as at the time of the report.
The commission accused the security agents of “excessive or disproportionate use of force, abuse of power, corruption and non-adherence to national and international laws, best practices and rules of engagement.”
Police spokesman Frank Mba said the commission was “too general in its allegations,” saying it ought to have been specific in the number of people killed by the police.
“The commission should have given details of those killed by the police, their number, names and places where they were killed to enable us take appropriate actions,” he told AFP.
He said the police would continue to enforce the lockdown measures “professionally and in line with international best practices.”
He said the police authorities would not condone any abuses or infractions against the personnel, adding that recently an officer who extorted money from a civilian was punished and made to refund it to the owner.
Local and international rights bodies have long accused Nigerian security forces of abuses against civilians, but they have denied the charges.
There have been growing fears of a rise in crime and unrest due to the virus restrictions, especially in Lagos, as millions of people living in poverty have been cut off from vital income.