As a human rights non-governmental organization working to promote social justice and equality in Nigeria for the past 20 years, ActionAid Nigeria has followed closely the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria since February 2020 and the responses of the Federal Government to curtail the further spread of the virus and protect Nigerians. We commend the efforts of the Federal Government, particularly with regards to the enforcement of the mandatory lockdown in parts of the country most notably, Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory.
Regrettably, the enforcement measure has been taken by some unpatriotic staff and officers within the Nigeria security agencies to perpetuate severe human rights abuses on some Nigerians. These abuses include physical assault, torture, illegal seizure, extortions and incidences of sexual and gender-based violence. Furthermore, there have been cases of outright destruction of property by security agents, thus inflicting hardship and pains on the vulnerable citizens, especially women and youths.
It is unfortunate to note that, in some cases, such abuses have resulted in deaths. According to reports, such brutalities by security operatives in places like Abia, Anambra, Delta, Kaduna, Niger, Ebonyi and Katsina states have led to an estimated 18 deaths. These unacceptable incidents are attributed to the undesired work of overzealous security agents in enforcing the lockdown.
In the preliminary statement issued by ActionAid Nigeria, we advised that the FGN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic requires a wider and multi-dimensional perspective and the need to ensure that women, children and the most vulnerable in the society are protected during the lockdown. As advocates of human rights, ActionAid Nigeria makes further recommendations to the Federal Government as follows:
- Adequate provision of food, water and other palliatives during the period of lockdown and ensure that the provisions reach the most vulnerable people in different localities within the informal sector, especially women, youths and People with Disabilities (PwD)
- In collaboration with the National Human Rights Commission, set up a committee to investigate the numerous human rights violations being reported across the country, and bring the culprits to book
- Put an effective monitoring and tracking team in place to oversee the activities of the security personnel during the period of lockdown, with the objective to enforce strict compliance and accountability of their mandates.
- Remember her human rights obligation to Protect women and girls from all forms of abuses. To achieve these, there should be increased support services through the provision of online platforms for reporting and swift criminal justice process during the period of lockdown.
ActionAid Nigeria is an affiliate member of the ActionAid International Federation with presence in 45 countries. It works in solidarity with people living in poverty and exclusion to achieve social justice, gender equality and poverty eradication towards achieving a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoys the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.