By Abe Kolawole

Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers Without Borders France), ASF France, recently released a statement indicating that security agencies in Nigeria are violating the rights of citizens in the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown. I read the report with utter disbelief. I could not, as a first, place, the rationale for such diatribe in this critical time in the country.

I concluded that it was of poor taste and somewhat an attempt to cause a distraction to the efforts of our security agencies in the country in this critical assignment they are tasked with. ASF did not only goof, and they also displayed hatred and ignorance at the same time.

As a first, they stated that “It is disheartening that the brutality of security agencies in the course of enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown has resulted to more deaths than the pandemic.” if this isn’t an insult to our sensibilities as Nigerians, I do not know how else to describe it. It is my considered opinion that it was indeed a joke taken too far in the feeble attempt to cause a distraction that would ultimately serve the purpose of their paymasters.
We must admit that from all indications, France seems to have some grudges with our security agencies with regards to the war against terrorism in Nigeria. It is on record that France has been covertly fueling the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria through the sponsorship of groups to distract and paint our security agencies in a bad light.

Back to the ASF, it is sad that such half-truths could be circulated in the media with impunity regardless of whose ox is gored. They have decided to turn the truth on its head in fulfillment of their nefarious mandate. Is the ASF telling us that they are not in the know of the various efforts of our security agencies in ensuring that a code of conduct guides security personnel on duty?

Is the ASF not also aware that our various security agencies have issued advisories on how to go about reporting issues of excessive use of force by security personnel? I recall that the Nigerian Army issued directives and availed the citizenry hotlines to report cases of excessive use of force by its personnel. This was a move that was widely commended by all and sundry.

In the light of the posturing of the ASF, I dare to say that there is more than meets the eyes. The position of ASF reeks of a dubious and fraudulent attempt to cry wolves where none exists. I dare to state that ASF, in their wisdom, is acting out the script of their paymasters holed up in France and not happy with the various efforts of the Nigerian government in the containment of the further spread of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

In their mischief, they could not do their homework well by stating that the brutality of security agencies in the course of enforcing the COVID-19 lockdown has resulted in more deaths than the pandemic. This is an apparent lack of common sense and an indication that their paymasters in France have mandated the ASF to cause maximum damage in Nigeria.

From all indications, ASF is nothing but the intellectual wing of the French interest to destabilize Nigeria, in addition to their demonic activities in North-East Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin region. The presence of groups like the ASF in Nigeria is ultimately to serve one purpose, which is to destabilize Nigeria. And this much they have begun with the disjointed and illogical accusation of security operatives violating the rights of Nigerian citizens in the enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Nigerian government must rise to the occasion to ensure that dubious groups like the ASF do not succeed in heating the polity and poisoning the minds of Nigerians. We do need such distractions for now as we continue in our efforts towards halting the further spread of the Coronavirus.

There is nothing like brutality and extra-judicial killings of civilians by security agents in Nigeria, and the ASF cannot claim to know more than Nigerians. We are Nigerians, and we know what is happening in Nigeria. The ASF and their paymasters should do well to leave Nigeria to handle its issues. They should quit playing to the gallery and not in a period where countries are batting the further spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The ASF should instead look to France where Police fought running battles in at least five suburbs of Paris with residents who accused officers of using heavy-handed tactics to enforce France’s strict coronavirus lockdown where residents burnt cars and shot fireworks at police, who responded with rubber bullets and tear gas in the northern suburbs of Villeneuve-la-Garenne and Aulnay-sous-Bois.

This much the ASF should concentrate on instead of distorting facts about human rights violations and what have you in Nigeria. This despicable attempt failed woefully as it is clear that it is nothing but a puerile attempt in courting public attention to the detriment of the peace and tranquility enjoyed in Nigeria since the implementation of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Having stated the above, it must be stated that the ASF must do well to enlighten us about brutality and where such brutality occurred in Nigeria. They should also do well to inform us about flagrant abuse and excessive use of force by security agents during enforcement. They should also tell us about what is happening in France compared to Nigeria and make an informed decision. The ASF should understand that their antics can’t fool Nigerians.

Charity, as they say, must begin from home. As such, the ASF must remain committed to assisting victims of human rights abuses, and help their families seek justice in France where there are widespread cases of excessive use of force and brutality by French police on French citizens.

I wonder when France would give up on their nefarious plot against Nigeria. This recent diatribe by the ASF is just one of those many attempts at destabilizing Nigeria since they could no longer make any headway in North-East Nigeria through the sponsorship of groups parading themselves as International NGOs but actively involved in espionage activities.

The ASF is no different from these dubious groups, and this much they have displayed through their recent attempt that was dead on arrival. This much we know.

KOLAWOLE is former Public Relations Officer, National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).


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