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Union seeks justice for worker shot dead by police in Nigeria

13 May, 2020IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum Workers (NUPENG) is seeking justice for its member, Chibuisi Chikezie Okameme, who was shot dead while at work by a police officer on Covid-19 enforcement patrol in Abia State on 5 April.

The use of disproportionate force by security forces during the lockdown has been condemned by the unions, civil society organizations and the country’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The NHRC says the police and other security forces killed 11 people during the enforcement of the Covid-19 lockdown and violated several human rights.

Most of the violations included on freedom of movement, unlawful arrests and detention, confiscation of property, sexual and gender-based violence, torture and inhumane and degrading treatment, and extortion.

Okameme was a petrol attendant employed by Greenmac Energy in Aba City. NUPENG wants the Okameme family to be compensated and for the government to investigate the murder.

The president and general secretary of NUPENG, Williams Eniredonana Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale say in a statement:

“Workers lives are precious, and we shall do all we can to get justice. An investigation must be properly carried out and other appropriate steps taken to serve as a deterrent to other trigger-happy officers. Police officers must be guided to know that minimum force is expected at this time when they are among an unarmed civilian population.

“However, we are seriously disturbed by the unfortunate silence of Abia State government over the gruesome murder of a worker on the frontline of the struggle against Covid-19 and urgently call on the Federal government to step into this matter before it degenerates further.”

IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, Paule France Ndessomin says:

“The heavy-handedness of the police in Nigeria in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic lockdown regulations is appalling. Public order policing during the pandemic should aim at campaigning for hygiene, social distancing and testing, and not the use of deadly force on unarmed workers and civilians.”

With the pandemic still far from over, the lockdowns have been extended in some states and eased in others depending on various local factors.

According to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, on 12 May the country had 4,787 confirmed Covid-19 cases while 959 were recovering after being discharged from hospital. So far, 158 deaths have been recorded, with Abia State having two cases.