By Peter Okutu
Members of Okada union, yesterday, took over the popular Waterworks Road within Abakaliki metropolis, burning tyres and dumping refuse on the road, protesting the killing of one of their members, Mr Ejike Ofim, Wednesday evening, by a policeman, Sgt. Onyebuchi Nweke, attached to the Anti Kidnapping Unit of the command over N50.
Though the police command described the shooting as an accidental discharge, it said the Police had taken full responsibility.
Waterworks Road and other adjoining streets in the area were taken over by the aggrieved youths when Vanguard visited, yesterday, as they were seen setting up roadblocks with stones, woods and burning tyres.
The protest paralysed commercial and other activities for some hours leading to deployment of anti-riot policemen in strategic locations in the state to restore normalcy.
It was gathered that senior police officers on patrol to quell the situation were reportedly stoned by the Okada riders and one of them hit by stone is said to be on admission at Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki.
Umahi orders arrest of suspect
Reacting to the development, Governor David Umahi called for immediate arrest of the policeman over the death of the commercial motorcycle operator.
The governor, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, described the incident as barbaric and callous and expressed confidence that justice will be done.
Umahi warned that his administration will not tolerate any form of killing of innocent citizens or extrajudicial killing by the security agencies and ordered the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Titus Lamorde, to arrest the trigger-happy policeman and other members of the team to face the full weight of the law.
Suspect has been dismissed— Ebonyi Police
Meanwhile, the state police command, yesterday, announced the dismissal of the policeman.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the command, Mrs Lovett Odah, who disclosed this in Abakaliki, warned that the Police Force would not condone any extra-judicial killing or unethical conduct by its personnel in whatever guise or manner.
Odah, who expressed sadness over the unfortunate incident, said the command had dismissed the policeman overnight and noted that the suspect would be arraigned in court today.
Odah, who described the shooting as an accidental discharge, however, noted that the Police had taken full responsibility, hence the dismissal of the officer from the force.
“What happened was that the officer did not intentionally shoot at the deceased; it was an accidental discharge. It is not excusable; hence the officer will take responsibility for his action.
“The Officer will be arraigned in court tomorrow to face a murder charge and we assure the family of the victim and the public of Justice.
“We further assure the public of our commitment to the protection of lives and property of every citizen.
“We implore the general public, especially members of the Okada Riders Union, to remain calm and not to take laws into their hands by embarking on riotous protests as the Police will do everything to ensure justice,” Odah said.