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“Federal government must punish indicted security personnel” – Ekweremadu

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A former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and a group of lawyers have asked the Federal Government to investigate and bring to book the security personnel who were indicted in the killing of 18 Nigerians during the enforcement of the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

Ekweremadu, who represents Enugu West Senatorial District, noted that the various extrajudicial killings by security personnel in parts of the country were condemnable and the lockdown ought to be enforced with professionalism.

He lamented that 18 Nigerians had been killed as against 12 lost to the coronavirus infection.

Ekweremadu, who is also a member of the seven-man parliamentary taskforce on COVID-19, said in a release on Thursday that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the security agencies “must stem the needless killings immediately.”

Ekweremadu noted that while the lockdown was necessary in containing the pandemic, it must be enforced by security operatives “with every sense of professionalism, discipline, restraint, empathy and utmost respect for human life.”

He said, “I am deeply saddened by report from the National Human Rights Commission of the loss of 18 Nigerian lives in the hands of security agents enforcing the lockdown ordered by the Federal Government and various state governments. This is most unfortunate and condemnable, especially when we consider that the number of coronavirus fatalities in the country stand at 12, as at today.

“I call on President Muhammadu Buhari and the relevant security and government agencies to ensure that the reprehensible acts are thoroughly investigated and the culprits brought to book. We must ensure that law enforcement agents do not turn their weapons against the very citizens they are supposed to protect.

The lawyers under the aegis of Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates in a statement by its convener and national coordinator, Pelumi Olajengbesi, therefore demanded the arrest and prosecution of the soldiers and killer-cops.

COPA said more lives would be lost if a timely intervention by the hierarchies of the security agencies and government was not effected with alacrity.

“The coronavirus pandemic will test us as a people and country to the edges of our limit, and it is necessary that our governments are seen to have a grasp on things and a template for saving lives that does not involve losing it on our streets to the frenzy of trigger-happy cops”, Olajengbesi stated.

The organisation warned that if government failed to address the issues, such might open a “flood gate of litigation against the state and its institutions.”

Olajengbesi said, “Killer officers and soldiers must be apprehended and subjected to a trial for their actions as a deterrent to others who harbour such counterproductive proclivities. These are, indeed, times that call for the utmost circumspection in the application of force. 

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