How po­lice mur­dered driver over N100 in Edo

Sunday Trust - - NEWS FEATURE -

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

PHO­TOS:

Po­lice ve­hi­cles were burnt in the protest. Us­man A. Bello

A group of youths dur­ing the protest

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