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COVID-19 Lock Down And Other Matters Arising: CHRICED Calls For Better Organized Palliatives, Justice For Assault on Citizens Rights

Resource Centre for Human Rights&Civic Education (CHRICED) has been closely observing the developments since the 14-day lockdown period announced by President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State. Through a process of citizen monitoring, CHRICED has been collecting information about the lockdown process to engage the core issues affecting citizens. While we commend the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the Lagos State Government and all the health workers on the frontlines of the effort to manage the rising confirmed COVID-19 cases, we urge those championing the fight against the dreaded virus not to rest on their oars. The discharge of a total of 20 recovered COVID-19 patients from isolation centre in Lagos, is noteworthy, and highly commendable as Nigerians continue to expect more positive outcomes in the management of confirmed cases.Abuse of laudable PalliativesOne area where citizens have been hardest hit is the gross inadequacy of palliative measures put in place by the government. Despite the billions of Naira approved to purchase foodstuffs for distribution to citizens, the portions and quantities reaching citizens are, to say the least nothing to write home about. Especially in Lagos, which is the epicentre of the outbreak, CHRICED has observed situations in which about 40 or more households are being asked to share few loaves of bread, as well as a few cups of rice and beans. For many citizens who have been ordered to stay at home, it is most disappointing that the food items they expected to reach them have not been properly distributed. There are similar complaints from people with a disability that the process of distribution of palliatives items has neither been inclusive, sensitive, nor effective. For us, it is not acceptable to expend billions of taxpayers’ Naira to procure relief materials that do not get to the people. This tendency of selfish, heartless and corrupt public officials to divert what is meant for citizens is exactly the reason why CHRICED had made earlier calls on anti-corruption agencies to prepare to monitor the distribution of palliatives materials to prevent their diversion. This is not the time to wait for corrupt officials to derail an important process such as this before launching investigations, which tend to look for what is already known. Given there are still ten days left for the initial period of the lockdown, it is not too late for operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to begin to monitor the process to prevent diversion of relief materials meant for citizens. Citizens Human Rights ViolationBy far the most critical issue in the course of this lockdown is the level of grave human rights abuses several citizens have been subjected to in the hands of security forces and some political leaders. Two cases are of particular interest at this time; the first is the killing of an unarmed civilian in Delta state by an army officer while enforcing the lockdown. It is most unfortunate that a Nigerian life would be lost to the recklessness of an officer, while efforts are being made to keep citizens safe from COVID-19. It is even more tragic that while Coronavirus has claimed two lives, the brutality of the military has taken the life of a citizen. This is condemnable. CHRICED, therefore, calls on the military high command to make good its recent promise to investigate the case and ensure justice is served for all to see.The second case of human rights violation CHRICED has been following very closely is the animalistic assault and rape of a lady, Elizabeth Oyeniyi by the State Commissioner of Water Resources, Abdumumini Danga over a social media post, which the commissioner deemed “critical”. Apart from the very shocking injuries inflicted on the lady from severe beating and endless torture, CHRICED is short of adjectives to describe the cruel, wicked and inhuman manner this citizen was abducted and raped by a so-called appointee of the State Governor. The barbaric behaviour of the man Danga is a sad commentary on the kind of despicable human beings we have in some positions of leadership in this country. CHRICED calls on the Gender Unit of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, and the National Human Rights Commission to move swiftly, take over and thoroughly investigate this mind-boggling assault on the rights of the young woman. Although Governor Yahaya Bello has ordered a so-called accelerated probe into the case, we believe the course of justice will be better served, and the victim will be better protected if federal authorities wade into the matter and swiftly dispense justice. This period of the COVID-19 pandemic is a time for the Nigerian State to demonstrate it can stand to protect the rights of its citizens. We, therefore, call on the relevant institutions to work round the clock to ensure citizens rights are not trampled upon, and that the current hardships Nigerians face are not further multiplied.

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!


Comrade Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi

Executive Director

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