By Deji Elumoye
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, and his predecessor, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, have flayed the alleged shooting of a protester in Sapele, Delta state as well as extra judicial killings by security agents in some parts of the country in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The two Senators in separate statements on Thursday cautioned security agencies to desist forthwith from shooting and extra judicial killing of people protesting against the lockdown associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Omo-Agege in the release condemned, in strong terms, the alleged shooting of one of the protesters in Sapele by security agents and called for the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
According to him, the culprits prosecution will serve as deterrent to other trigger-happy security men.
While noting that the lockdown has caused untold hardship on the people, the legislator pointed out that the long-term benefits of the stay-at-home order is to protect the citizens from contracting the deadly Coronavirus disease.
He explained that government at all levels are making frantic efforts to get palliatives to the poorest of the poor.
Senator Omo-Agege recalled that around 1919 when the population of the area now known as Nigeria was only a fraction of what it is today, not less than half a million people died of a virulent global influenza pandemic brought by overseas ship passengers into coastal areas from where it spread elsewhere.
“No doubt, the lockdown has caused difficulties and inconveniences for many citizens but in these trying times, it takes courage for our elected leaders to adopt global best practices by extending the lockdown so as to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease and save lives.“As President Buhari and governors, including Governor Okowa of Delta State have said, our common objective is to contain the spread of the Coronavirus and to provide space, time and resources for an aggressive and collective action while ongoing comprehensive public health measures including case identification, testing, isolation and contact tracing capabilities are intensified.
“No doubt, the lockdown has caused many inconveniences for millions, especially for our daily wage earners and many others in the informal sector but for a disease that ravages with no guarantee of cure, and the fact that life has no duplicate, staying at home to curb its spread is a most reasonable imperative.
“Too many lives are being lost and far too many families are going through deep grief caused by Covid-19; while the Delta State government weighs possibilities of making things better, we should all strive to appreciate the deep seriousness of the issue.“Nonetheless, warnings about social distancing, hand-washing and other preventive measures given by relevant state and federal authorities deserve our
“These are trying times, palliatives and sacrificial giving from government, the private sector and individuals can make things easier. Importantly, we all need to support efforts being made by the federal and state authorities including the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) towards curbing Corvid-19 and saving our people’s lives,” the DSP said.
On his part, Senator Ekweremadu condemned the reported extrajudicial killings in several parts of the country by security agencies enforcing the lockdown ordered by the Federal Government and some states of the federation to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ekweremadu, who is also a member of the seven-man International Parliamentary Taskforce on COVID-19, made his feelings known in a statement and called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the security agencies to stem the needless killings immediately.
The Chairman of the Senate committee on Environment 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.
“While the lockdowns and other precautionary measures are very necessary for containing the pandemic, they must be enforced with every sense of professionalism, discipline, restraint, empathy, and above all, with utmost respect for human life, which the lockdowns were put in place to protect in the first place”.