COVID-19, Nigeria Police Force, the People

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It is no gainsaying that every nation must build a formidable internal security force to safeguard its citizens especially those who are vulnerable and endangered amidst insecurity of lives and properties. But it is vice-versa in the case of Nigeria where one of its security armed forces (Police) have been the talk of the town as a result of its unprofessionalism in terms of handling security challenges in recent time.

Earlier this month, Nigeria’s police force encouraged citizens to report officers who violate rules on conduct adding “the rights of Nigerians are not infringed upon under any pretext”

Nigeria is referred to as the ‘Giant of Africa’ for the role played in the unity and tranquillity of the African continent, the West African countries in particular. However, with the recent happenings in the Nigeria Police Force, it is becoming pathetic to see the pride of Africa gradually going into extinction because of the inordinate attitude displayed by some erring members of the force to the citizens who ought to have been protected in this critical time. What a sad episode!

It is recalled the first confirmed case of the pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 in Nigeria was announced on 27 February 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus. Today, Nigeria has recorded 407 new cases, 128 discharged, and 12 deaths at the time of filing this report.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari in his first broadcast dated 30th March 2020 ordered a two-week lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, in an effort to stem the tide of COVID-19. On the 13th day of April 2020, the President extended the lockdown over concerns on the rapid rise of the pandemic in the country. This necessitated the emergence of the Nigeria Police Force among other security outfits to safeguard the citizens during this period amid security hitches.

Findings by the Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission on Wednesday, 15 March 2020 claimed security operatives killed 18 civilians during enforcement of a total lockdown in major cities in the country over the novel Coronavirus. This has resulted in heated controversies between the Nigeria Police Force and Nigerians as the former is more concerned about the report.

The commission, founded under a special law to monitor human rights violations in Nigeria, said in a report it got 105 petitions from families of the deceased through their lawyers and carried out investigations.

“Security operatives have killed about 18 persons following the enforcement of COVID-19 regulations and lockdown,” the report said.

Appearing on TV, Anthony Ojukwu, the commission head, said civilians’ complaints of “brutality and killing” by security operatives were received from 24 out of Nigeria’s 36 states between March 30 and April 13.

Cases of violations were higher in Lagos, the country’s commercial hub, the capital Abuja, and some southwestern states,” he said.

Babatunde Ogunyanwo, a police deputy inspector general, said the police are concerned about the report.

“We shall investigate and those found culpable will face justice,” he told news station Channels TV.

It is against this backdrop the Federal Government must call the Nigeria Police Force to order. We cannot shy away from the fact that the various allegations making rounds on the social media describing the force as incapacitated and unprofessional in its efforts towards ensuring the safety of lives and properties during the lockdown is factual. Knowing fully well that, the pride of a nation is when its citizens are safe and sound, which this is not exempted.

Also, the Nigeria Police Force should be quick in its investigation and ensure the culprits are brought to book if found guilty. Delay is dangerous

– Arogbonlo Israel

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