Coronavirus lockdown: How police destroyed our business made us poorer

Police arrest, torture, and detention during the coronavirus lockdown destroyed our businesses and rendered us poorer Kabayi residents in Mararaba area of Karu local government, Nasarawa state have said.

Some business owners in the Kabayi area, who spoke to Media Advocacy West Africa Foundation (MAWA Foundation), recounted how police arrest, torture, and detention destroyed their business and rendered them poor.

One of the business owners who operate a provision store, close to Prince Alex Secondary School at the Kabayi area, told MAWA his business was adversely affected as a result of police arrest and torture despite he is one of those allowed to sell during the coronavirus lockdown because he sells essential commodities.

He, however, explained, often policemen stormed his shop, arrest his customers, take them to the station and detain them for violating the lockdown guidelines.

He pointed out that because of the incessant police arrests, his customers stopped coming to patronize him while those who had finished buying at the point of arrest took the goods along with them to the police station and never paid the money or returned them, making him record a huge loss.

Kabayi community
Kabayi community

He, however, told MAWA, policemen had during the lockdown, in my instances, chased after him to get him arrested; forcing him to abandon his business and scamper to avoid arrest. “Many times I had left my shop open and ran for my life when the policemen came, they ran after me, but God so kind they did not catch me,” he said.

“Many times, after running from the policemen not to be arrested, when I come back, monies I kept in the locker and some goods on the shelve were taken,” he told MAWA.

“When the police arrest became too much, I stopped selling and stayed off even though I sell foodstuffs and provision, he added.

Another businesswoman who sells foodstuff in the area, corroborating his claim, told MAWA police made arrest more than 50 times a day in Kabayi during the Coronavirus lockdown.

Asked why they did not tell the police to spare them having been excluded from the lockdown, they replied in chorus, ‘Haaaaa policeeee noooo, they said government directed that everybody should be at home and all businesses closed.

The traders told MAWA, we lost all business as a result of police arrest, torture, detention, pointing out policemen made life more difficult for Kabayi residents.

One of the community residents recounted how he was arrested when he comes out to buy sachet milk for a breakfast, handcuffed and was taken to the Kabayi police station, detained for over 24 hours, and was released after paying N5,000 for bail.

“Police shut down all businesses in Kabayi, they were making arrests and extorting money from residents all through the lockdown,” a resident told MAWA.

When MAWA sought the explanation of police at the Kabayi police station, a police officer on duty confirmed there were arrests made during the lockdown, but said those arrested violated the lockdown order.

He, however, told MAWA to come back and speak to his superior who has full knowledge of the issues and has the authorization to speak on them.

This report is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa OSIWA

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