© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Lagos Task Force officials seen on tape vandalising shops to effect Coronavirus lockdown
A video, in which a group of Lagos State Task Force officials was captured destroying goods and wares of shops located in a remote town in Lagos, has gone viral.
It is believed that the task force officials, principally policemen, were enforcing the partial lockdown order given by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who directed the shutdown of court sittings, markets and stores, except for essential services from Thursday, March 26.
This is in response to the rising cases of coronavirus in the state and an attempt to curb the further spread of the deadly virus.
As at the time of filing this report, Lagos, had recorded 44 cases of COVID-19, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and there are concerns over a looming outbreak.
In line with the directives of health experts and NCDC on practicing social distancing, Lagos State has activated measures to prevent crowd gathering by shutting down markets and stores but the methods in which this is enforced has come under scrutiny.
The viral clip, in which policemen can be seen destroying wares in a store to effect the partial lock down order, has raised many questions and many social media users have accused the Task Force agents of implementing draconian measures that are more harmful than protective to business owners in this trying period.
Nigerians on social media have expressed worry over the manner in which officials are effecting the lock down. While some argue that the shutdown directive should be adhered to by citizens, given the impending danger of an outbreak, others have voiced concerns over the use of force and brutality against citizens and businesses to achieve results.
In response to the clip, the The Inspector General of Police, M.A Adamu, condemned the action of the officers, describing it as a display of unprofessionalism and highhandedness.
This was reflected in a post shared on the Nigerian Police official Twitter page, in which it was announced that the IGP has ordered for investigation into the matter and that disciplinary measures be carried out against the erring officers.
Former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chidi Odinkalu, has also condemned the methods by which security agents are enforcing the lockdown in Lagos.
“The control measures for COVID-19 are increasingly rife with abuse
“Citizens are being threatened with a N100,000 fine if caught disobeying the lockdown order and this can either lead to abuse or bribery and corruption,” Odinkalu explained.
Odinkalu told The ICIR that the context in which such practice is being effected is faulty. According to him, Nigeria is dealing with a situation already designed for abuse and the economic distress in the country is not being considered in the implementation of such order of a lock down.
Outside Nigeria, several video clips and complaints showing the excessive force employed by security agents to enforce a mandatory locked down have flooded the social media.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered a 21-day lockdown, restricting movement of its 56 million inhabitants.
In so doing, it deployed police and army in the country to enforce lockdown as Corona virus cases in the country passed the 1,000 mark.
Security agents in the country have been seen making serial arrests and anyone caught disregarding the rule is to face imprisonment or pay a huge fine.
“If people are not complying, they (the military) may be forced to take extraordinary measures,” Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula warned.
India, another country pinning its hope on curtailing the virus by practicing social distancing, given its fragile health care system and large population, has also imposed a total lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus.
With over 1.3 billion population, India has effected strict measures in ensuring that citizens stay home to prevent spread of the virus.