How police murdered driver over N100 in Edo
From Usman A. Bello, Benin
Hell was let loose in Benin, the Edo State capital on Tuesday following the killing of a commercial vehicle driver identified as David Okoniba. It was alleged that he was pushed to the road by a police officer on duty at a checkpoint.
The incident brought activities in the state capital to a halt for several hours as irate youths and drivers staged a protest across the major and adjoining roads in the city.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that trouble started when a police team that mounted a checkpoint by Third Junction, along Murtala Muhammed Way, stopped Okoniba, who was with his fiancée inside the car, and demanded for N100.
The driver was said to have refused to part with the money, insisting that he did not have it. In the process, an altercation ensured between him and the police officers.
A driver who preferred anonymity told our correspondent that in the course of the altercation, the police pushed Okoniba to the road and a moving truck crushed him to death.
He said that the police, on noticing that the man was dead, jumped into their Hilux van to escape, but later abandoned the vehicle and fled.
As a result of the development, angry youths and drivers mobilised and engaged in a protest, which disrupted commercial activities in the state.
The protesters blocked the Murtala Muhammed Way and all the adjourning roads with bonfires, thereby causing traffic logjam in the city for several hours.
A witness said the protesters disrupted the activities of a mobile court sitting close to the area and set those arrested for various offences free.
He said the vehicle in which the offenders were kept, waiting for trial, was set ablaze.
“They also attempted to storm the Esigie police barracks but were stopped by the police, who sprayed teargas to disperse them,’’ he said.
He said the protesters almost lynched a police officer before he was saved by those who knew him.
According to him, as a result of police extortion, transportation fares from Third Junction to Ikpoba Hill or New Benin area had increased by over 200per cent.
Daily Trust on Sunday also gathered that the angry youths later destroyed Toyota Hilux vans and other properties belonging to the police.
It was further gathered that the late Okoniba had bought everything needed for his wedding before the unfortunate incident.
It was also said that three other persons, including a policeman, were killed in the fracas.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, Babatunde Johnson Kokumo, said the officer who allegedly caused the death of the driver, had been arrested.
He said the officer and members of his team are being investigated, and they would be made to face the full wrath of the law if found guilty. He assured that the command would not renege in its fight against all forms of human right abuse.
Kokumo advised parents, guardians and community leaders to warn on their children and subjects against taking laws into their hands and allow police investigation to be concluded.
Governor Godwin Obaseki called for calm and urged aggrieved parties to allow justice to prevail. While lamenting that the incident had degenerated into a civil disturbance, he said there were better ways to resolve the matter.
He also visited the family of the deceased driver, were he made a donation of N10 million, it was gathered.
A driver who preferred anonymity told our correspondent that in the course of the altercation, the police pushed Okoniba to the road and a moving truck crushed him to death
Youths protest after the driver was killed
Police vehicles were burnt in the protest. Usman A. Bello
A group of youths during the protest