Group decries alleged abuse of human rights of citizens-By Reginald Okoro

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Gov. Dave Umahi

Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has frowned at the alleged abuse of people’s fundamental rights by agents enforcing government’s anti COVID-19 law, restrictions, guidelines and regulations in Ebonyi.

Mr Jerry Onyibe, Secretary of CDHR in the state made the group’s feeling known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abakaliki.

Onyibe said that the group has received a number of reports and complaints by victims and urged state government to guarantee the fundamental human rights of its citizens.

“We have so received reports of extra-judicial killings, extortions, harassments, illegal impounding of motorcycles, beatings and other physical assaults especially of people by Ebonyi taskforce enforcing government’s anti COVID-19 lockdown order and restrictions.

“Government must ensure protection of lives of its citizens at all times and we urge that those found to have violated the basic rights of the people be investigated and those found culpable arrested and prosecuted.

“There are rules of engagement even in conventional war situations hence people are tried for war crimes because they went against these rules of engagement.

“We advice that government should uphold the sacredness of the human life, respect human dignity and ensure that no citizen is unjustly treated in the cause of our collective fight to defeat the novel Coronavirus pandemic,” Onyibe said.

The group further faulted the Ebonyi anti COVID-19 and other Infectious Diseases and Related Matters Law 005 recently signed by Gov. Dave Umahi stressing that the law is draconian and was not subjected to public hearing before it was passed.

“The people were ambushed with the said law because there was no public hearing to enable citizens make inputs and also there was no sensitization; the enforcement of the began the very moment it was announced.

“Alleged offenders are treated like cows by taskforce officials under this law and we think that people’s rights deserved to be respected and dignity of the human person guaranteed.

“There is also a section of the law that infringed on the freedom of the press; this is not healthy for effective reportage of the pandemic and people deserve to have access to as much information as possible.

“We therefore urge the state government to repeal the law for its many flaws and for not passing through laid down legislative procedures,” he added.

The group which however, commended state government for its unrelenting fight to curb the virus and contain its spread in the state urged the people to adhere to government’s approved precautionary prescriptions.

“We applaud the governor and his team for their resilience in the fight to curb the virus and contain it from further spreading.

“We have so far recorded five confirmed cases of the virus in the state and we must respect and obey all approved restrictions, guidelines and measures put in place for effective containment of the disease,” he added.

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