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Many south-east residents wear face masks ‘just to avoid police harassment’

Many south-east residents wear face masks ‘just to avoid police harassment’
July 05
14:05 2020

CLEEN Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), says many residents of the south-east wear face masks to avoid harassment by security agents.

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In a statement on Sunday, Benson Olugbuo, CLEEN Foundation’s executive director, said many of them are nonchalant to the existence of COVID-19.

“Several people in the South-East wear face masks because of security agents and not necessarily to prevent coronavirus spread,” Olugbuo said.

“Majority of the citizens are nonchalant to the existence of the virus despite the increase of covid-19 cases in the region.

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“There is poor compliance to physical distancing directives and use of face masks in the markets, commercial buses and most public gatherings such as wedding, burial and community meetings.

“There is poor sensitisation on the importance of the use of personal protective equipment especially in Imo state.”

The executive director said at least 12 people have been killed by security agents enforcing COVID-19 protocols in the region.

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“There have been 12 reported cases of extrajudicial killings in the region by our observers. Abia State accounted for six deaths involving officers of the Nigeria Police Force,” he said.

“The outcry of these extra judicial killings led to the redeployment of the former Commissioner of Police of Abia State who was accused of inaction in the face of the killings of citizens.

“In view of the increasing rates of extra judicial killings, the federal house of representatives in May 2020, directed security agencies in Nigeria to bring to justice the officials who were involved in the killing and other abuses during the lockdown.

“There have been calls for justice for the victims by citizens but as at the time of writing, the perpetrators are yet to be brought to book.”

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Olugbuo said there is need to educate security agents on non-violent enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines.

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