COVID-19 Lockdown: Anger In Anambra Over Police Killings As NASS Members Seek IGP’s Action

From Chuks Collins, Awka

As individual members of the Anambra state caucus of the National Assembly led by Chiefs Dozie Nwankwo, Chris Azubogu and a frontline 2021 governorship aspirant in the state, Mr Tobe Olisa Olih rise in strong condemnation of the alleged recent killing of two young men at Nkpor area of the state by security agents, traders in the state have expressed angst over the incidents.

Reacting over the unfortunate killings, member representing Dunukofia/Njikoka/ Anaocha Federal Constituency in the Federal House of Representatives, Chief Dozie Nwankwo condemned the young Ebuka Agbaja by alleged overzealous security operatives and the resultant fracas that followed afterwards. The melee was said to have led to an acid attack on some security personnel and the destruction of government properties within the area.

Chief Nwankwo described the development as “unacceptable, highly unfortunate and embarrassing to Anambra State and her people who are known to be law- abiding”. He frowned at the lack of professionalism on the part of the security operatives involved in the incidence and called for a thorough investigation into the incident with a view to avoiding a repeat in future.

According to him, “as Ndi-Anambra, our value for human life remains sacrosanct and therefore, no form of law enforcement can justify the loss of life of our citizens in the process, I honestly expect the Anambra State Government to immediately launch a comprehensive investigation into this ugly incident to ascertain exactly what happened, prosecute all the indicted persons and take necessary actions to prevent a reoccurrence in any part of Anambra State. I condemn this killing in the strictest of terms”

He expressed his heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family and urged them to remain calm as the perpetrators of this dastardly act will not go unpunished, and enjoined all Nkpor residents not to take laws into their hands and allow the due process of the law to take its course on this matter.

Mr Olih while urging for an understanding between the citizens and the security operatives all over the state, especially in this lockdown period when virtually everyone is stressed, he appealed to those in positions of authority to prevail on their subordinates to remain level headed.

He described citizens of the state as friendly, loving and accommodating who welcome everyone in their midst always and was out of character if they attack security operatives. He therefore called on religious leaders, community leaders and traditional rulers to step in and hold on their people especially the youth to avoid further escalation of the situation, because every life counts. He appealed to the police and state authorities to do a thorough investigation to avoid a reoccurrence in future.

Azubogu who represents Nnewi North/Nnewi South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency at the National Assembly called for a discreet investigation into the fracas with a view to forestall a repeat.

Coming closely to the lawmaker’s reaction was that of the traders under the aegis of New Motor Tyre and Tube Market, Nkpor in Idemili North Council of Anambra State who also condemned “the killings of the two young men at Nkpor in Anambra by a Police patrol team moving round to enforce lockdown order issued by State Government against the spread of Coronavirus saying that incident is most shocking and unfortunate.”

Briefing journalists yesterday afternoon at Nkpor, the President of the Market Association, Okechukwu Atueyi said the traders who were sitting at home in compliance with the lockdown directive of the Anambra State Government received with immense shock the news that two people were shot and killed somewhere at Ezego Street  behind the New Tyre  Market…”

While commiserating with the families of the victims Atueyi called on the State Commissioner of Police Mr John Abang to enusre that the culprits who fired the killer bullets were brought to book immediately.

The market leader dismissed the reports making rounds that the traders in the market were involved in the fracas with the Police patrol team which led to the killing of the two young men, saying that the incident couldn’t have involved traders who were observing the lockdown directive of the state government. He admitted that his members have remained indoors in their homes “since Saturday March 28, 2020 when all the markets in Anambra State were ordered closed down by the Anambra State Government to prevent, limit and avoid coronavirus pandemic spread”

The highly mobile confluence community of Nkpor had remained in mourning since the killing of the two young men in the area who became victims of gunshots from policemen on patrol to enforce the lockdown directive of Gov Willie Obiano in the state.

Eye witness accounts had alleged that armed police operatives were chasing some people drinking at a street corner beer parlour when the young man was coming out from his house to buy foodstuffs, he saw everyone running and wanted to run too, but was cut down by the bullet fired at close range.

It was further disclosed that the seeming trigger-happy officer in question was quickly disarmed and his assault AK-47 riffle taken away and the angry mob threw raw acid on him and threatened to further set him ablaze before he was rescued.

The prolonged fracas, eye witness added made other policemen to shoot sporadically to scare the irate crowd and consequently another youngman was shot and died minutes later in a nearby private hospital.

However, while the Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed confirmed that investigation into the incident has commenced, he pointed out that early situation reports available indicated that the incident was caused by an unprovoked attack on Police patrol team with substance suspected to be acid by some miscreants. He confirmed also that the irate youths tried to snatch some rifles from the police operatives.

The PPRO said efforts were ongoing to restore sanity in the area and that the commissioner of police CP John Abang has ordered a discreet investigation into the remote reason the protest took place in the first instance.

Efforts to obtain reaction of the President General of the Nkpor community has not yielded fruits as he was reported to be in a crucial security meeting.

Since the lockdown, police officers in the state have been involved in a running battle with journalists at different locations in the course of performing the news gathering efforts in parts of the state.

Some Nurses had their own tales of woes, “…for about two weeks now since the lock down in Anambra state, we made arrangements to use the hospital vehicle to convey home our staff as much as possible in the afternoons, so as to help minimize the stress and cost of transportation. Just this afternoon, we were stopped and harassed unnecessarily by some police officers on our way.

We all had our official identity cards and were conveyed by our official driver who also had his official ID and current drivers’ license. The vehicle was also conspicuously branded with the name of the hospital.

Even when called on phone and we tried to speak with the officers on phone to further confirm that they are our staff (peradventure they didn’t observe the nurses on uniform), the officers declined to speak on the phone with anyone.

We were delayed unnecessarily (even when other vehicles were allowed to pass) for about an hour, thereby causing more stress to the already-stressed health workers. According to them, the officers were requesting for a particular “Health Workers Permit” and i wondered what other permit surpasses their official ID cards.

I had to call on the Honorable Commissioner of Health – Hon. Dr Vin Okpala – who expressed disappointment at the action meted out on our staff and also corrected that the said “permit” was only for members of the government’s Task Force and not for health workers who should have their own Identity Cards or official uniforms.

I use this opportunity to call on the state government officials, the higher authorities of the Nigerian Police, FRSC, Army and other forces on the state, to kindly help us to be cordial with members of the public, especially health workers who go about their normal duties. Subjecting them to such inhuman and disrespectful embarrassments is very bad.

Another man at Umunze, Orumba South Council of the state narrowly escaped with his life when he stepped out to see if he could use his ATM card to get come money as he pointed out that his family had run out of food and money. A police team didn’t even ask him any question but shot his car tyres, an incident that got him and other bystanders deeply traumatized.

Also, another victims, a journalist said, “…in front of Igboukwu Divisional Police Headquarters, there was a road block. I had been cleared by the first two very polite young police officers. One of them went to tell his pot bellied colleague to remove the barricade and allow me pass and explained who I was but the pot bellied policeman  was not satisfied. He came over to my car and asked me to turn off my ignition and step down from my car. I put on my face mask and complied. He then asked me to hand over my car key and go see their DPO inside the station. I saw other people coming out of the station and then someone I knew who told me to just give the policeman 200 naira and retrieve my key. I told him I had no money and he then turned to the policeman and gave him 500 naira explaining to him it was for two of us. That was when my car key was released.

The Igbo Oriental Think Tank, a Pan Igbo Intelligencer has called on the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the killings at the Nkpor area of Onitsha area are thoroughly investigated so that the officers who caused the death of the young men are brought to book.

In an interview with the Coordinating Secretary, Dr Kenneth Anozie, the Group expressed angst on the high handiness of the trigger happy policeman who should have acted more responsibly.

Dr Anozie further advised the Government to open up the economy now, and create a very sustainable way to guide the citizens to keep vigilance so that they will not contact the disease. This will ensure that the Corona virus will not spread; Dr Anozie concluded.

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