More Nigerians killed by security forces over lockdown enforcements than coronavirus, says human rights panel

People shop at a roadside market with few customers in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday.
People shop at a roadside market with few customers in Lagos, Nigeria, on Monday.(Sunday Alamba/AP)

Eighteen people have been killed in Nigeria as security forces try to enforce lockdown measures, according to the country’s National Human Rights Commission.
The official number of coronavirus deaths in the sub-Saharan nation is 12, among 407 reported infections.
The commission — an independent body serving as an “extra-judicial mechanism for the respect and enjoyment of human rights" — released a report Wednesday saying that there had been “eight documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths” between March 30 and April 13.
The commission attributes a large majority of the reported deaths to the Nigeria Correctional Service, responsible for eight deaths; and to the Nigeria Police Force, which was responsible for seven, according to the report.
The country’s army and a local government are being blamed for the other three.
According to Reuters, lockdown orders were put in place in certain areas of the country on March 30, and they were initially slated to last 14 days.
On Sunday, Nigeria extended the orders by two more weeks. It also included other areas, such as the northern economic hub Kano.
The report added that a total of 105 human rights complaints were received from 24 out of 36 states of the federation.
They included torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, violation of right to freedom of movement, unlawful arrest and detention, incidents of confiscation of properties and extortion.

According to Tony Ojukwu, National Human Rights Commission executive secretary, the violations “arose as a result of excessive or disproportionate use of force, abuse of power, corruption” as well as the non-adherence to international and national human rights laws by law enforcement agents.

National police spokesman Frank Mba dismissed the allegations as “too general.”

“The commission should have given details of those killed by the police, their number, names and places where they were killed to enable us to take appropriate actions,” he told the Agence France-Presse.

Police will continue to enforce lockdown measures “professionally and in line with international best practices,” he added.

A spokesman for the Nigerian Correctional Service told Reuters that four inmates died after a violent episode sent prisoners and staff to a hospital. The report alleges eight deaths.

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