Femi Falana, a human rights activist and lawyer, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to restrain soldiers and members of the armed forces from enforcing the lockdown order due to the novel Coronavirus across the country.
Falana made the request in a statement issued on Thursday over the alleged brutality of soldiers in enforcing the lockdown.
Due to the escalating spread of the Coronavirus, President Buhari announced the restriction of movement in Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
Some state governors have also declared either a partial or total lockdown of their states, prompting the security forces, including the armed forces, to patrol the streets to implement such orders.
But Falana said video clips have surfaced on social media in recent days, displaying soldiers allegedly torturing Nigerians while carrying out their duties.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said the video showcased the impunity of the soldiers and, therefore, asked Buhari as the Commander-in-chief, to recall his troops back to their barracks.
The statement read: “The several video clips which captured the unwarranted brutalisation of the people have been circulating at home and abroad. As usual, the military authorities have publicly defended the rampaging troops by dismissing the video clips,” he said.
“In a desperate bid to cover up the atrocious behaviour of the torturers the military authorities deliberately refused to conduct any investigation into the complaints of the victims. Although, while not denying the authenticity of the video clips of horror the Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche said that ‘the videos were old clips of past incidents that took place in 2012 and 2013.’ Assuming without conceding that the incidents recorded in the video clips took place in the past were the culprits identified and sanctioned by the military authorities?
“Whereas based on a similar video clip which recently exposed a group of policemen who had engaged in the brutalisation of some traders in Lagos under the pretext of enforcing the COVID-19 Regulations the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu ensured that the culprits were promptly identified and arrested for the purpose of prosecuting them. The civilised conduct of the Police Chief has demonstrated the readiness of the current police leadership to put a stop to the involvement of police personnel in the crude infringement of the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to dignity.
“In the light of the foregoing, we respectfully call on President Buhari and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to restrain members of the armed forces from further enforcing the COVID 19 Regulations.”
Falana also asked the president to order an investigation into video clips of the alleged brutalisation of Nigerians by some soldiers, and to direct the appropriate authorities to bring them to justice “for contravening the provisions of the anti-torture act, 2017”.