COVID-19: Government’s intolerance responsible for extrajudicial killings — HURIWA

Posted by News Express | 14 May 2020 | 502 times

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•President Buhari and a cross section of state governors

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has blamed government's tolerance for lawlessness and impunity as the fundamental cause of the killings that has characterized the lockdown measures put in place by President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors of the 36 states of the federation in the last two month.

Lamenting that so far, the armed security forces have killed about 36 Nigerians for violating the measures, HURIWA stated that the Buhari administration has in the last five years done nothing by way of law enforcement to severely punish rogue members of the armed security forces responsible for some of the worst cases of extra-legal executions of over 1,000 innocent Nigerians.

The rights group alleged that there is organised cover ups by the security forces not to publicly subject these trigger happy cops and operatives of the armed security forces to undergo transparent trials before the competent courts of law.

“Many innocent civilians have lost their lives due to extrajudicial executions by members of the armed security forces only because these persons went out to the streets of major cities to protest against bad policies of government. A federal government that sends out security forces to kill protesters and voters at polling centers will not be ready to demand accountability from the hierarchies of the armed security forces for the rising wave of extralegal executions,” HURIWA said.

The rights group said the snail-speed with which the wheel of justice moves in Nigeria is also a fundamental issue because many cases of professional misconduct by the armed security forces that relate to extrajudicial executions of persons that are managed to be charged before some courts of law linger in those judicial institutions for years thereby foisting a sense of impunity amongst these armed members of the security forces that they can do whatever they want and may walk away from justice.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said that another salient cause of the continued extra-legal executions of Nigerians is the deliberate weakening and politicisation of such critical institutions like the National Human Rights commission and the Office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice which render these strategic offices useless in stamping out these crimes against humanity that extrajudicial executions of persons by the members of the security forces constitutes.

According to HURIWA, “Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice is more concerned with playing politics of pursuing political vendetta against the immediate past Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan and has failed to ensure that his enormous constitutional powers are deployed in the service of national interests by way of prosecution of indicted security operatives for these extensive cases of extralegal executions of over 1,000 Nigerians.

“The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has become a shadow of its old self because the management runs the place like a normal civil service outfit to the utter shock and disappointment of millions of Nigerians who are expecting this commission to use its enhanced operational and funding powers to prosecute such murderers in security forces' uniforms.

“The NHRC ought to be led by a constituted board of governors who ought to lead the process of investigations and prosecution of such heinous cases and so what we now have is a crying baby sort of National Human Rights Commission that can bark but lacks the teeth to bite.

“These are the underlying reasons for the spike in the killings as is statistically self-evident that security operatives enforcing the lockdown in parts of Nigeria have killed more people than Coronavirus itself.

“Evidence of the killings comes from members of the public who rang their hotline or sent in videos, the NHRC stated just as at the last count that law enforcers have killed 18 people in Nigeria since lockdowns began on 30 March and another 11 persons since after the first report of these killings were made known.

“HURIWA can corroborate the fact that at least 1,476 people were killed by state actors in the country over the past year as reported by the Council on Foreign Relations. In its report about Nigeria’s Coronavirus lockdown period, the NHRC, a government agency, said it had found eight separate incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths.

However, we demand that President Buhari set up the governing council of the National Human Rights commission.”

HURIWA cited a plethora of Sections of the Constitution that must be complied with by government to stave off widespread extrajudicial killings.

Source: News Express

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