Human rights violation, hike in food items: Group urges govt to protect citizens

The Civil Society/ Media Group in Anambra has raised concerns over the increasing incidences of human rights violation and outrageous hike in prices of food items since the government announced its lockdown plan in the state.

The concerns were contained in a statement issued after the group met to evaluate the efforts made so far by Anambra and Federal governments towards containing the dreaded coronavirus pandemic ravaging most parts of the world.

The group commended the efforts of both the Federal and Anambra State Government through public awareness campaign on the virus and how to avoid contracting it, as well as the announcement of palliative measures and stimulus packages by the two governments.

“In Anambra State, the Government ordered the closure of markets and schools, for 14 days in the first instance, while promising to help the elderly cope well with the situation, with the distribution of bags of rice. Tax relief is reportedly being offered to business owners in the State.

“The Federal Government is not left out, as the President in a nationwide broadcast on Sunday, highlighted some measures aimed at cushioning the effects of the lockdown and stay at home order on some categories of Nigerians. Part of the measures is the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) to the core poor, which we learnt has commenced in Abuja and some parts of the country.

“We also note the engagement of law enforcement agencies, partnering the Task Force on COVID-19, at the Federal and State levels, in enforcing the lockdown and stay at home order,” the statement quotes the group as saying.

It, however, observed that despite all these seeming lofty moves, the helpless and economically- handicapped Nigerians are left at the mercy of unscrupulous businessmen and women, who are milking them dry with the astronomical increase in prices of food items, which are critically needed commodities at this time.

The statement read: “We note also with discomfort, the lopsided implementation of the directives by Anambra State Government, a situation where Taskforces and agencies of the State, with the assistance of the Police authorities and Heads of paramilitary agencies, violate the citizen’s rights, through coercion and needless use of force.

“Motorists, food vendors and shop owners, across the State, were harassed, ostensibly to extort money from them.

“The group, therefore, wishes to call on the Federal and Anambra State Governments to live up to one of their major mandates, which is the protection of lives and property of the citizens at all times.”

It urged those saddled with enforcing all directives aimed at aiding the fight against COVID-19 Pandemic, to approach their mandate with civility and respect for citizens rights.

The statement advocated the integration of the Civil Society, Media and other relevant Non State Actors in the Committees set up for administration and management of COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Inclusion and participation of the latter will engender a civil approach to engagement, sensitization and management of the exercise. This is a global best practice,” it said.

The Civil Society/Media Support Group further appealed to affluent and public-spirited Nigerians and Anambra citizens to emulate those, who had made donations of various sums of money and materials towards the war against the pandemic.

“The task forces in charge of the government’s efforts against the disease must be judicious and above board in utilising whatever resources contributed. The citizens are enjoined to be vigilant and hold the governments and the managers to account. We call on Nigerians to cooperate with the Government in handling this precarious global health challenges, by complying with all instructions on how to stay safe and kick the virus out of the shores of Nigeria,” the group admonished.

It urged the citizens to have faith in God and continue to hope for the better, expressing optimism that with love, unity, cooperation and hope in God, these trying times shall surely pass.

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