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CLEEN Foundation Calls for the Establishment of More Testing Centres Across Nigeria and Requests the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Security Agents as a Matter of Urgency  

By CLEEN Foundation
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Introduction
With the second cycle of the restriction of movement imposed by the Federal Government (in Lagos, FCT and Ogun) and by some state governments to curb the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) across Nigeria, the spread of the virus across states have continued to increase with 26 states of the federation and the FCT now having active cases of infected COVID-19 patients. Much of the cause of the spread of the virus has been attributed to the continuous intra and interstate movement of citizens despite the restriction of movement, low compliance to social distancing guidelines and the complicity of some law enforcement and security personnel at different state borders.

Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 pandemic across the country and in line with our recommendation last week for a synergy between the federal and state governments, the governors of the thirty-six (36) states of the federation on Wednesday 22 April 2020 agreed for a restriction of interstate movement in Nigeria. This decision will hopefully go a long way to curb the spread of the virus. As at Monday 27th April 2020, Nigeria has a total confirmed case of 1337. Those who recovered and have been discharged are 255 while 40 have died. To flatten the curve, a collective and coordinated action is required by all citizens with support from the federal and state governments. There is need to constantly review developments across Nigeria as the federal government plans a gradual relaxation of the restriction of movement imposed few weeks ago.

2.0 Methodology
As a follow up on the report released on Monday 20th April 2020, CLEEN Foundation adopted a triangulation approach involving collection of primary data by our state coordinators and volunteers and tracking developments across the states from reliable secondary sources of information. CLEEN Foundation received a total of 548 reports collated across the six geo-political zones and these are disaggregated as follows:

 318 reports on citizens’ compliance to government directives;

 155 reports on conduct of security personnel enforcing government directives;

 75 reports on human rights violations by security personnel enforcing government directives on COVID 19

3.0 Citizens Compliance to Government Directives
3. 1 Stay at Home Order
The government’s stay-at-home order remains on low/moderate compliance in general. Majority of our observers (69%) across the country noted that most Nigerians were seen moving around and carrying out their various activities in different parts of the country. Between 35% and 34% respectively of our observers noted there were moderate and low public compliance to government’s stay-at-home order while 14%, 10% and 7% reported no compliance, total compliance and not applicable respectively.

However, there was improved public compliance to the government's stay-at- home order last week when compared with the findings two weeks ago. This can be attributed to the increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, deaths and spread to other states in Nigeria. In Nasarawa State, our volunteers observed that residents were seen going about their daily movements with little or no compliance to the state government’s stay home directives. Markets and motor parks were reported to be very functional and intrastate movements continued without precautionary measures observed.

In South-West Nigeria, reports and feedback from observers indicated that the level of compliance of citizens in the states where the lockdown order was announced have decreased. In Lagos state, it was reported that citizens’ compliance was reducing weekly, as some churches and mosques were observed to still hold services with praying grounds still fully functional while open markets continue to operate in some parts of the state. In Oyo, citizens were seen to be moving around. Despite the ban on large gatherings, some churches and mosques were observed to be operating with large crowds. In Ondo, Osun and Ekiti states, we observed there were violations of restriction orders by citizens.

In South-East Nigeria, we observed partial compliance by citizens particularly in Mgbirichi in Ohaji/Egbema and Owerri Municipal LGAs of Imo state. However in Oguta LGA, residents observed the sit-at-home directives. In Enugu State, we observed minimal compliance by the citizens. In Abia State, the citizens defied the government's directive on compulsory wearing of face masks. In Anambra state, our volunteers observed that some commercial bus and tricycle drivers were seen violating government directives on the use of face masks and approved number of passengers. In Onitsha, residents were observed walking freely across the bridge without any restrictions.

In the North West Nigeria, CLEEN observed varying degrees of compliance across the states of the region. In Kano state where there is a complete lockdown in all the 44 LGAs, our observers noted partial compliance by the residents as some youths were seen playing football in different open spaces. In Kebbi and Sokoto states, the interstate borders and entry points were closed while intra-state movements continued in some parts. In Jigawa State, partial compliance was observed by residents. However, in Katsina state, we observed a high level of compliance from residents especially in the local governments areas affected by COVID-19.

The compliance level in the North East is low as there were no restrictions of movements in Gombe, Borno, Taraba, Yobe, Bauchi and Adamawa until early last week when state governors agreed to a nationwide restriction of movement. The restriction of movement in Bauchi began mid-night of Monday 27th April 2020.

3.2 Non-Compliance with Social Distancing Guidelines

In several parts of the country, we observed the refusal of citizens to adhere with the guidelines on social and physical distancing. CLEEN observers in the North Central especially in the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau, Kogi and Kwara states reported minimal compliance by residents with the stay-at-home-order. In the Federal Capital Territory, we observed that in parts of Nyanya, Jikwoyi, Bwari and Lugbe, there was mass movement and convergence of people without recourse to social distancing and use of facemasks. The designated market days were more crowded than usual in some areas of Nyanya, Karu, Kuje and Lugbe and Wuse. Residents in the Galadimawa area of the Federal Capital Territory were also seen along the expressway performing various sporting activities. In Benue, Niger, Kwara and Plateau States, there was high-level compliance by residents in the second phase of the state’s lockdown directive. However, the Ipata and Oja Oba markets of Kwara state, were constantly crowded without compliance to the laid down precautionary measures.

In the South-South geo-political zone, citizens violated government directives and staged a protest against the stay-at-home order In Sapele, Delta State. Security agents were seen having a herculean task managing and dispersing the crowd. Traders and citizens were also seen in other parts of the states in various markets. Both Edo and Bayelsa states recorded low compliance to social distancing in most markets in the two states.. In Cross River State, despite the No-Mask, No-Movement policy, there was low compliance to social distancing in some parts of Calabar the state capital.

3.3 Ban on Public Gatherings and citizens compliance

The compliance to government’s ban on public gathering shows a total to moderate compliance level by the public as 60% of our observers indicated total/moderate compliance, 33% indicated low/no compliance while 7% indicated that the ban on public gathering is not applicable in their states. Similarly, when compared with the previous findings in the last two weeks, there is a gradual improvement in compliance rate as we have 60% compliance against 58% total/moderate compliance. This can be attributed to increased spread across the states with more states adopting measures to curb the spread of the global pandemic. Our volunteers observed that despite the ban on large gatherings, some churches and mosques in Oyo state were not complying with the directives as large crowds were seen across the state. In Sokoto State, there is a ban on public gathering of persons in excess of 20 in the state, however, Jumat prayers were held with large crowds in parts of the state. In Edo state, it was observed that in Etsako East Local Government, some churches organized programmes with sizeable gatherings. At Umuelendu village and around the Seven-Up market junction, Obingwa, LGA, Abia State, some people were seen moving from or to church gatherings, while others were seen very close to food and provision stalls around the neigbourhood.

3.4 Inter-State Movements
Movements across borders are not well enforced as citizens were seen violating the order with impunity and acquiescence of some security personnel who were induced. However, in the South-South geopolitical zone, our volunteers in Delta State observed that a lorry conveying about 50 persons from Lagos state was intercepted by the state taskforce at Ologbo, a border town between Edo and Delta states. The lorry was denied entry into Delta state by the vigilant task force members. In Akwa-Ibom state, it was observed that in Ikot Ekpene and Ika towns, there was entry into the state via these towns by residents in neighboring Abia state who journeyed into these towns for business purposes. A group of Abia traders were arrested while being smuggled in a container into Rivers State. A policeman was also caught using his vehicle to transport passengers from Port-Harcourt to Aba. Members of the National Union Road Transport Workers alleged that private car owners engaged in intra-state travels at night. It was also reported that foreigners were entering the country through land borders at Ogun and Lagos states.

4.0 Conduct of Security Personnel on Enforcement of government Directive on COVID 19

In terms of the general conduct of security personnel, CLEEN Foundation findings indicated a general poor/fair conduct of security personnel as reported by 59% of our observers on the COVID-19 enforcement duty. The findings corroborate the increase in human rights violations by security agencies on COVID-19 duty. Only 30% observers reported that the security personnel are of good conduct.

4.1 Extra-Judicial Killings by Security Personnel
We observed that in Delta state, a tricycle rider was shot dead by a police officer in Otokutu town over the deceased’s refusal to give bribe. In Rivers state, a female police personnel was shot dead by a Police Sergeant who is a member of the Rivers State Task Force in Eleka town in Obio-Akpor Local Government Area. It was alleged that the incident took place while the deceased was attempting to restore civility between the taskforce and the traders who violated government directives. Furthermore, in Sankara community, Ringim Local Government Area of Jigawa State, a 10 year old boy was allegedly shot by police officers while enforcing the lockdown imposed on the market in the community. The Police authorities in both states have reacted proactively as both police personnel have been arrested and are currently facing disciplinary actions. A total of 25 deaths caused by security agents have been recorded since the restriction of movement started.

4.2 Brutality of Citizens by Security Operatives
We observed that in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti-state, South-West Nigeria, an okada rider was brutalized by Amotekun and Vigilante operatives. In Mpape area of the Federal Capital Territory, a young man was brutally beaten by a group of young soldiers for failing to comply with the stay-home-order.

In Edo state, South-South Nigeria there were reports of the Army molesting and intimidating a Journalist in Benin City. In Delta state, we observed that security personnel shot at protesters in Sapele town who staged a peaceful protest against the sit-at-home order as citizens were flogged and molested. Most of the protesters went home with various degrees of injuries. Furthermore, in Akwa Ibom state, it was reported that security personnel intimidated and inflicted injuries on traders at Ikot-Ekpene. In Rivers state, it was also observed that the taskforce team was seen intimidating residents while enforcing the lock down especially in Obio Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government areas of the state.

5.0 Gaps Identified
• Extortion of money from citizens by private security personnel security personnel deployed to enforce restriction of movement;

• Citizens’ low-level compliance with government directives particularly on suspension of public gathering, wearing of face masks and social distancing;

• Professional misconduct of some security personnel especially at different border posts;

• Inter/intra state movements by citizens despite restriction of movement;

• Only few security personnel wear personal protective equipment while on duty;

• The Police Service Commission has been silent on the discipline of police officers during COVID-19 pandemic.

6.0 Recommendations
6.1 The Federal Government and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should work towards activating more testing centers across Nigeria and embark on aggressive testing of citizens, intensify COVID-19 awareness in local communities by sensitizing the people about the seriousness of the virus and the danger of shielding infected persons.

6.2 The Presidential Task Force should prioritise the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for security agents as promised by the President during the recent national broadcast.

6.3 The Federal government and the Kano State government must investigate the recent reports of deaths of persons recorded within a short period in Kano state. In addition, the Federal government should increase its surveillance in Kano state and strengthen the state’s COVID-19 response system in the areas of capacity building and supply of testing kits.

6.4 Federal and Governments should prioritize the distribution of facemasks as a first line of defense against the COVID-19.

6.5 The imbalance in the distribution of palliatives across the country should be addressed. Hunger and starvation have become an existential issue during the restriction of movement.

May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and heal our land.

Benson Olugbuo, PhD
Executive Director, CLEEN Foundation