By Benson Olugbuo, Ph.D
The Federal Government on Monday 18th May 2020 extended gradual easing of the lockdown for another two weeks to enable a balance between boosting economic activities and protecting citizens from the hazards of the Covid19 pandemic.
The Governors adopted the Presidential measures towards easing of the lockdown in the States. The CLEEN Foundation through our volunteers spread across the 36 States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja observed and documented compliance to human rights standards and government directives viz-a-viz the easing of the lockdown.
As at Sunday 31st May 2020, Nigeria recorded 10, 162 confirmed cases, 3007 recovered cases and 287 deaths. The report tracks developments from 18th to 31st May 2020.
CLEEN Foundation continues to adopt a triangulation approach involving the collection of primary data by our 37 States and FCT coordinators and volunteers in the 774 LGAs who are tracking COVID-19 developments across the States and through reliable secondary sources of information. CLEEN Foundation has received a total of 2,606 reports across the 774 LGAs in the six geopolitical zones and these are disaggregated as follows:
- 1,500 reports on citizens’ compliance to government directives;
- 765 reports on conduct of security personnel enforcing government directives;
- 341 reports on human rights violations by security personnel enforcing government directives on COVID19 pandemic.
3.1. Citizens’ Compliance with Government Directives
- 1.1. 8:00 pm to 6:00 am Curfew
Sequel to the lifting of the stay at home order, the 8:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew was introduced by the Federal government. This has been adopted by most of the States in the Federation. Our observers in the six States in the South South, reported partial compliance by citizens to the curfew and sit-at-home restrictions by the various State Governments. In Bayelsa State, it was reported that in Southern Ijaw, Brass and Ogbia LGAs, there was no compliance with government directive on the dusk to done curfew. However, the compliance level remained high in Yenagoa. In Edo State, the level of compliance by citizens was observed to be relatively high. Whereas, it was observed that in Igbanke and Akoko Edo areas of the State, citizens violated the dusk to dawn curfew. In Delta State, our observers noted the level of compliance to the 7:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew in most parts of the State was high.
In Imo State our observers noted that citizens’ compliance to the 8:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew has relapsed lately. It was reported that citizens are gradually returning to night businesses and in some places, bars and hotels have operations. In Abia State the curfew is being adhered to in the State and the terms of the partial relaxation are being complied with by residents as markets open only on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays weekly. In Enugu State, it was reported that following the directives by the State government shops and businesses close by 4:00 pm daily.
3.2 Non-Compliance with Social Distancing Guidelines
In the South South region of Nigeria, our volunteers observed and reported partial compliance by citizens on the use of facemasks and physical distancing in public places. In the coastal areas of Delta State, residents had failed to make use of their facemask knowing that the monitoring task force is non-existent in the area. It was further observed that most boat riders and passengers commuting by sea or creeks in riverine communities namely: Egbokodo River in Warri, River Ethiope in Sapele, Urie River in Igbide Isoko, Asaba- Ase creek and Aragba River in Abraka, have failed to make use of masks believing that the virus will not spread to the territory. The situation is not different in Edo State where physical distancing is not observed by citizens in most markets visited, especially Ibillo market in Akoko Edo LGA and Okhuesan community in Esan South East LGA. In Cross River State, there is a high compliance to the “no mask, no movement” policy by citizens in Calabar the State capital, but there are quite a few incidents of violation in the rural communities. In Akwa Ibom State, our observers from Mbo, Okobo, Udung Uko, and Urue Offong LGAs, reported that worshippers in churches were seen not complying with physical distancing and use of facemasks directives.
In the South West region, the adherence to physical distancing in public places particularly in markets, banks, commercial vehicles remained very low across the six States. It was reported that most banks had taken steps to improve on customers’ compliance with the rules of physical distancing. While it was observed that most banks in Apapa, Mushin, Ifako Ijaiye, Ibeju Lekki, Amuwo Odofin, Lagos Island, Shomolu, Surulere etc have introduced seating system under the bank canopy with tag numbers provided for each customer. Furthermore, in Lagos, it was reported that the compliance level among commercial motorists has improved with respect to the vehicular seating capacity restrictions outlined by the State Government except in few cases as witnessed in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area.
Our observers in the North Central reported low compliance by citizens across the States in the region. In Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa and Benue States, it was reported that there was low compliance to the physical distancing directives as people gathered in clusters at social gatherings. Reports from the six area councils within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) showed outright disregard for physical distancing at bus stops, banking and market premises. However, there’s a high level of compliance among transporters and commuters within the Abuja Municipal as vehicles were visibly seen conveying only the number of persons permitted by the FCT administration. In Kogi State, adherents of the Islamic faith observed Eid-El-Fitri prayers without recourse to physical distancing and the use of facemask.
In the North West, reports from Katsina noted that all the central mosques and praying grounds were crowded with faithful worshippers during the Eid-El-Fitri prayers. Safety measures such as: physical distancing, wearing of face masks and washing of hands were not observed. Only few persons wore the face masks in some places. Across the States in the North East, while some Muslim faithful were seen complying with the physical distancing advisory and the use of facemasks during the Eid-El-Fitri prayers. It was also noted that many did not adhere to these directives including women and children.
3.3 Ban on Public Gatherings and Citizens Compliance
About 53% of CLEEN Foundation’s observers noted low and moderate compliance to government ban on public gathering. Places observed include worship centres, religious celebrations, weddings, funerals and market places.
In Bayelsa State, our volunteers observed that a political rally was held in Toro-orua community in Sagbama LGA with over 300 persons in attendance. Furthermore, in Obunagha and Agbura town in Yenagoa LGA of the State, burial ceremonies were held with large crowd exceeding 50 persons thereby violating government directive on physical distancing.
In the South West, it was reported that there was compliance on the ban of public gathering as major churches and mosques across most of the States remained closed. However, in Ekiti State, there were reports about attendance of religious functions like jumat prayers in the mosques and church services. In Ondo State, it was reported that residents are complying with the State government directive granting the citizens the opportunity to bury deceased relations within a month. This was noticed in Igbotako, Okitipupa LGA and some parts of the South Senatorial District of the State.
In the North Central, football competitions were reported to have taken place within Jos North, Qua’n Pan, Kanke LGA of Plateau State and Karu LGA of Nasarawa State. Our observers have reported that burial and marriage ceremonies were held in many communities, while religious
activities also held in the rural and suburban places like Kwande, Agatu, Okpokwu, Ogbadibo, Vandeikya and Guma LGAs of Benue State despite the State government’s decision to reverse its lift on the ban on religious activities. Various social gatherings were reported around the FCT, in Mpape under Bwari Area Council and Nyanya under AMAC Area Council. Residents in Plateau, Kwara and FCT were observed to have had prayers in their various homes as praying grounds were reportedly deserted during the Eid-El-Fitri celebrations. In Northeast region, the six State governors have lifted the ban on public gathering and daily activities have reverted to normal despite the surge in the cases of corona virus in the region.
3.4 Inter-state Movements
Our volunteers in Rivers State reported that the Governor ordered the prosecution of 14 persons who moved cattle from Adamawa State to Rivers State in breach of the Rivers State boundary lock down order and inter-state travels. The Governor also ordered the auction of the cattle and the two trucks that conveyed them. The government in a bid to curtail interState movement constructed a giant iron gate between the two ends of the road to block vehicular movement between Rivers and Abia State. In Edo State, it was reported that the State taskforce intercepted some travellers from the Northern part of the country while entering the State through Ekpoma, Oredo and Akoko Edo areas of the State. In Delta State, the Ughelli/Bayelsa, Koko/Benin express way and Asaba /Onitsha head bridge borders remained porous as citizens were observed entering and exiting the State through these areas. In Bayelsa State, the Covid19 Task Force intercepted two buses conveying 17 teenagers suspected to be Almajiris, they were refused entry and turned back. Furthermore, private vehicles are observed to be involved in inter-state movements between Bayelsa and neighboring States of Delta and Rivers States. In Cross River State, a trailer load of persons coming from the northern part of the country disguised as haulage vehicle was impounded at the border between Benue and Cross River States during the week by the State taskforce. In Akwa Ibom State, there were reports of corpses being smuggled into the State via the Ika LGA and Ikot Ebidang in Onna LGA.
In the South West region, there were reports of movement of citizens across the States. In Lagos and Ogun States, our volunteers reported that some trucks and other vehicles carrying essential items played major roles in flouting the guidelines by smuggling people in and out of the States. Reports from Oyo indicated that inter-state movement between Lagos and Oyo remained persistent. In Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States continued unrestricted, there were reports from border communities that illegal inter-state movements persist. This is exploited by the law enforcement and security agents who reportedly extort motorists and passengers in the process.
Our Plateau State observers reported that Riyom LGA which is an entry point from Abuja, Kaduna, Nasarawa and many other States is constantly experiencing a heavy traffic of trucks and vehicles transiting into the State. This situation is not different from observations within Langtang and Jos East LGAs where commercial vehicles from Kano, Bauchi and Borno States move in and out of the states regularly. Furthermore, our observers reported that in Abaji Area Council of the FCT, there is continuous inflow of vehicles along the Lokoja-Abuja Express Way as commercial vehicles from the East and other neighbouring States like Benue are seen plying the road.
Reports from our observers in the South East indicated that there are still free movements of people across the borders. Our observers in Imo State reported that the State borders are still very porous due to the compromising attitude of the security officers enforcing the ban of inter-state movements. Reports from Igbo Eze North LGA in Enugu indicated that there are still inter-state movement as some commercial buses and taxis are secretly loading passengers from the local government to other States like Abuja, Anambra and Kogi States. According to the Imo State COVID19 taskforce team, about 96 passengers travelling through the Imo State to Abia State were intercepted and tested for the virus after which they were allowed to continue on their journey. It was later confirmed that 25 persons tested positive compounding issues of physical distancing, testing isolation and treatment of positive patients.
4.0 Conduct of Security Personnel on Enforcement of Government Directives on Covid19 Pandemic
CLEEN observers noted improvement in the conduct of security personnel on Covid19 duty. 60% of the reports received noted that the security personnel were of good conduct which is an improvement from previous reports on conduct of security personnel.
4.1 Extra-Judicial Killings by Security Personnel and other State Actors
Our observers have recorded a total number of 36 deaths since the restriction of movement started in the country. On 20th May 2020, one Fatai Oladipupo was killed by a stray bullet along Obabiyi, Igando Road, Ikotun, Lagos by some police officers attached to the Ikotun police station who were attempting to enforce the 8:00pm curfew in the area. An elderly foodstuff seller was flogged to death by some military personnel in Nasarawa LGA of Nasarawa State in a bid to enforce the lockdown order. In Anambra State, the partial compliance of citizens to the imposed directive led to the death of a young man who was shot by the Police for flouting the curfew order. The incident happened at Enugwu-Ukwu in Njikoka LGA of Anambra State on Wednesday May 20, 2020. Our observer from Ngor Okpala LGA in Imo State reported an incidence of extra judicial killings by Security Personnel.
4.2 Brutality on Citizens by Security Operatives
Our Observers reported a case of assault on an Okada rider by some security personnel for riding on the wrong lane along the Lokoja-Abuja Express Way in Abaji Area Council of the FCT. We have also noted a worrisome development associated with the Alimajiri exchange policy embarked upon by the Kano, Kebbi, Kaduna and other State Governments in the North West. This is a disturbing development and violation of the human rights of the children as enshrined in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guarantees the right of all Nigerians to live in any part of the country.
5.0 Gaps Identified
- Citizens non-compliance to physical distancing and precautionary guidelines by Government and Nigerian Centre for Disease Control.
- Lack of sufficient testing centers in most States across Nigeria as most citizens do not know their Covid19 status.
- Poor enforcement of Government directives on citizens in different parts of the country including riverine communities across the South South region
- Extortion by security personnel on citizens for failing to use face masks
- Low level of compliance with health and safety guidelines particularly physical distancing
- Complicity of security operatives in non-compliance with inter-state movement restrictions imposed by both the Federal and State Governments
- Poor supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to local health workers and security officers.
- Nigerian citizens should cooperate with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 pandemic by observing physical distancing guideline and others established protocols to reduce community transmission of coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.
- Provision of adequate testing centers at every senatorial district in the States
- Citizens’ enlightenment and awareness campaign on the proper use of facemasks should be intensified by the various State governments.
- Effective oversight on Security personnel implementing the border control measures. Furthermore, erring officers found guilty of extorting citizens and violating human rights should be disciplined appropriately to serve as deterrent to other officers.
- The State governments need to properly access the covid19 situation in their States with regards to the proprietary or otherwise on the lifting of the ban on public gatherings.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and heal our land
Benson Olugbuo, Ph.D is the Executive Director of CLEEN Foundation