Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) and Police Stakehokders Partnership Forum (PSPF), Anambra State, received with mixed feelings, the ‘Special Broadcast on Covid-19 by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief (Sir) Willy Obiano, on Saturday April 18, 2020 to Update Ndi Anambra on Contact Tracing and Progress of the Index Case’.
We welcome the Governor’s act of responsibility in updating the people of the State on progress being made by the State government in the effort to contain the ravaging virus, and especially on the progress of the Index case in the State. This is reassuring. Carrying the people along is the best way for any government to succeed.
We commend the Governor, especially, for exercising his prerogative of mercy and ordering the release of 54 prisoners from four correctional facilities in Anambra State. Decongestion of correctional and other detention facilities is a key step in containing the spread of the virus.
We are however disappointed that the Governor did not seem to have felt the public pulse on the tragedy of the Police Killing in the State and therefore, failed to meet the expectations of the people in his reaction to the unjustified killing by the Police in the pretext of enforcing the lockdown in the State.
The Governor appeared to have misconstrued and trivialized what is a clear tragedy by perfunctorily referring to ‘the Nkpor Incident’ as a ‘clash between a group of youths and some security operatives at Nkpor that resulted in the unfortunate death of one person and injuries to other’ and described it as ‘extremely regrettable.”
The Governor said ‘It is one avoidable incident which we must not permit to happen to us again’.
We believe, however, that the best way not to permit such a tragedy to happen again is not for the Government of Anambra State to merely condemn it and offer to ‘foot the medical bills of the injured as well as underwrite the burial costs of the deceased.’
We also note the Governors appeal to Ndi Anambra to, ‘in the interest of peace in our communities, refrain from anything that would lead to a head-on collision with the police’, and to the police ‘to adopt best practices in dealing with the challenges that this difficult moment will most certainly provide’.
We however wish to remind the Governor that the best recipe and enduring condition for peace anywhere is truth and justice.
Human life is sacred and without getting to the root of how the life of even one citizen was cut short, with a view to ensuring accountability and justice, peace may be elusive, or at best akin to the peace of the graveyard. Impunity will also continue to reign.
Considering the widespread public outcry and indignation precipitated by the incident, and especially, since the accounts by the Police and eye witnesses to that killing are varying and diametrically opposed, we urge the Governor to take a further step by invoking his powers, and empanel an independent inquiry to unravel the truth and recommend measures for justice to prevent the reocurrence of such tragic killings that diminish our humanity.
Only when justice is done will the soul of the departed young man Rest In Perfect Peace.