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Victims Of Law Enforcement Brutality During COVID-19 Lockdown Should Seek Compensation, Rights Activists Say

The National Human Rights Commission said it had received and documented about 105 complaints of incidents of human rights violations perpetuated by security forces in 24 of Nigeria's 36 states and Abuja.

Since the lockdown instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the spread of the Coronavirus on March 30 came into effect, more than 22 persons in the country have lost their lives to police and military brutality, a figure almost matching the death toll of the pandemic itself in the country.

The National Human Rights Commission said it had received and documented about 105 complaints of incidents of human rights violations perpetuated by security forces in 24 of Nigeria's 36 states and Abuja.

Families of victims of these extra judicial killings are however, left without support in most instances because they are unaware of their right to compensation. 

A rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, who spoke with SaharaReporters on Friday said there are legal avenues loved ones of victims of police and military brutality can explore to seek redress.

He said, “The first step is to file an action in court because the court has to make determination that the infringement is a violation of the fundamental right of the victim. In furtherance of that, an order of compensation will be made.

"If there is an order of court, first compensation will usually arise from a judgment of court mostly when an action for enforcement of fundamental rights has commenced and has been successfully concluded.

“After the court determines that the rights or dignity of the applicant has been violated, an order of public apology or compensation will be issued.

"It is a conditional right, the right to public apology and compensation is guaranteed under the constitution specifically Section 34 and 35 on the right to personal liberty and the right to dignity of the human person.

"Under 35, the condition allows for compensation and public apology but that has to be when the court has made a determination that the right of a citizen has been violated. 


"The challenge is how to recover the compensation because you will have to go to court by way of enforcement of judgment to garnish the account of the police because it is an agency of government.

“The order will then be used to scan the accounts of the law enforcement agency and a directive of payment will be made to the complainant. 

"Garnishing proceedings is when you search for the accounts of the police in the bank where they have funds, mostly now in the Central Bank of Nigeria because of the Single Treasury Account. 

“So for police funds that are domiciled in the CBN, it is possible to garnish that account and the court will then order the bank to remit the judgment sum.

"Under the National Human Rights Commission Amendment Act, the commissioner has power to also award damages and compensation to victims of rights violation."

Also adding his voice to the issue, rights activist and former federal lawmaker, Senator Shehu Sani, told SaharaReporters that the killing of innocent Nigerians during this period of lockdown was worrisome and something urgent needed to be done to address the matter.

He said, “Our security apparatuses can’t differentiate between coup curfew and Coronavirus lockdown.

“If its justifiable to brutalise and abuse people to enforce the lockdown, then the moral aspect of its necessity is lost.

“Enlightenment and civility should continue to be used to enforce the lockdown rather than force and fear."

He called on families of persons, who lost their lives to seek full compensation.

“The families of persons killed during the enforcement of the lockdown must be compensated,” Sani said.