Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to stop soldiers from enforcing the COVID-19 regulations.
Buhari on Sunday ordered a two-week lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, and also signed the quarantine regulations 2020.
Restating his argument that the deployment of soldiers to enforce the lockdown was illegal, Falana, in a statement on Thursday, said videos of soldiers torturing civilians showed the impunity of the military.
“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.”
The senior lawyer also asked the president to order an investigation into video clips of the 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”.