Nigeria’s security apparatus was unprepared to effect the government-ordered lockdown at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, leading the lockdown to have several negative effects on the nation’s populace.
This was revealed by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD) in its report on the Security Sector Accountability (SPaCVOSSA) project being implemented by the centre with support from Trust Africa.
The report, which looked at how security measures impacted citizens and communities during the lockdown, said security personnel in Nigeria were highly unprepared to enforce the lockdown directive.
Presenting the report with the theme “Impact of COVID-19 Security Measures on Citizens and Communities in Nigeria,’’ in Abuja, the principal consultant for the research, who presented the report, Mr. Clement Ikeoba, said the lockdown enforcement resulted in the deteriorated social relationship among families, community members, the collapse of social institutions, as well as increased drug abuse and other related vices.
He also said there was also an increase in cases of violation of rights to freedom of movement; torture, inhuman treatment and molestation; damage and seizure of property; discrimination and extra-judicial killings, among others.
“Between March 30 and April 13, 2020, being the first phase of the lockdown, law enforcement agents killed 18 persons (more than the number COVID-19 had killed at the time).
“It showed that a total of 105 complaints bordering on violations of citizens’ fundamental rights, illegal arrest and detentions, among others, were received from 24 of the 36 states.
“The developments led to accusations that the measures were used by government and security forces to muzzle and trample on the rights of citizens,” he said.
The report called for the amendment of existing legislation to reflect current realities on the need to improve the professional conduct of Nigeria’s security personnel, especially during public emergency.
He added that the continuous education and enlightenment of citizens on issues relating to human rights and justice, as well as the roles of security agents, should be pursued actively by all stakeholders.
Earlier, the executive director, Centre LSD, Mr. Monday Osasah, urged the Federal Government to evaluate the impact of security measures on citizens’ free movement and response to issues of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
According to him, the report will identify and verify the various human rights violations that may have occurred during the security forces’ implementation of the lockdown.
“The report also intended to suggest measures to strengthen citizens’ voices to demand accountability from security forces to forestall human rights abuses during a public health emergency.
“What the centre intends to achieve is to compile and come up with a bill which will be presented to the National Assembly, with a view to it becoming an act,” he said.
He added that the report would also be used to influence policy bills at the National Assembly.