COVID-19: CLEEN Foundation, Experts Decry Gross Rights Abuse By Security Agents

Experts on security matters have described as worrisome the spate of human rights abuse by security operatives, whose duty is to first protect and defend the rights of Nigerians.

One of the experts, Dr. Michael Ugwueze, who spoke during a webinar on Counter-Terrorism Legislations in Nigeria, organised by the CLEEN foundation, said the conduct of security agents in the enforcement of COVID-19 lockdown clearly demonstrated the degree of lawlessness in Nigeria. According to him, security agents killed more Nigerians than the virus did.

Ugwueze, who is a Senior Lecturer with the Department of Political Science, University of Nigeria, regrets that only highly placed individuals are guaranteed of adequate protection while other Nigerians live at their mercy. “If you’re not an elite, and you encounter a policeman, you will know that police is not your friend,” he said, adding that the extent laws failed to explicitly criminalise human rights violations and even whether they exists, implementation is weak.

He blamed inadequate training and funding deficit as cause of animosity among security agents. He noted that policemen in Nigeria are grossly understaffed while military is overwhelmed with internal and security challenges.

According to him, there are 370,000 Police Officers, policing over 200 million Nigerians and over 150,000 police are attached to very important or political exposed persons. He called for aggressive employment of more policemen to meet the UN benchmark of 1 police to 400 people .

Ugwueze added that efforts must be made to criminalise human rights violations while urgent citizens to report cases of abuse.

On Countering terrorism, the expert noted that there is a great deal of distrust among security agencies involved. This, according to him impacts on the lackluster attitude of citizens in bringing useful information that could aid the aid the arrest of criminals including terrorists.

He also noted that the laws create loopholes which aid the perpetration of violent crimes, adding that improved Civil-Military Relations will help to strengthen the counterterrorism and counter-insurgency efforts in Nigeria.

According to him, the proliferation of small and light weapons has continued unabated despite the fire arms Act, partly because it provides for weak sanctions, which must be

Quoting the findings of the presidential committee on small arms and light weapons, Ugwueze said Nigeria accounts for 350 million of over 500 arms proliferated in West Africa and 90 percent is in the hands of unlicensed state actors.

He stressed that until these issues are addressed insecurity may not subside.

Tony Ojukwu, Executive secretary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in his keynote address stressed that security agents must maintain Law and order within the ambits of the law and respect for human rights.

He informed that the commission have carried out interventions aimed at holding the security agents and law enforcement agencies accountable while they perform their constitutional and statutory responsibility.

The Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Benson Olugbuo, advised Nigerians and National Human Rights Commission to adequately protect human rights in accordance with the law.

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