Fred Itua, Abuja
Gunshots were fired on Thursday afternoon in Dei-Dei, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by gunmen suspected to be policemen. The shots were fired to disperse the FCT Mobile Court sitting in the area to try violators of the COVID-19 safety protocols nation’s capital.
The incident which happened at about noon, was said to have thrown residents into confusion. The magistrate, prosecutors and other officials scampered to safety.
According to eyewitnesses, trouble started when personnel of the FCT Ministerial Joint Enforcement Task-team on COVID-19 restrictions arrested a policeman who gave his name as Agada Gabriel for the twin offences of not wearing a facemask in public and for overloading his vehicle, a Gulf car with passengers.
The culprit who was arrested around the premises of the court, was said to have called on his colleague, a certain Smart Jacob to help him to resist his arraignment.
However, the two were subsequently charged for overloading and non-use of face masks and sentenced accordingly, bit they were said the have refused to pay their fines or engage in community service as directed by the Court.
According to eyewitnesses, the two were said to have mobilised gunmen from the Mobile Police Barracks in Dei-Dei who stormed the court, shooting sporadically.
While the Presiding Magistrate, Theresa Otu, Court Prosecutor, Emmanuel T. Yatsegha and other court officials including a Correctional Service Personnel scampered to safety, the policemen were said to have dismantled the court’s canopy and vowed that they would no longer allow any court sitting in the area.
As of the time journalists got to the area, normalcy had been restored, but a female personnel of the Nigerian Correctional Service NCoS who was attached to the court was seen lamenting the loss of her mobile phone and handbag containing some valuables.
When contacted, Chairman of the Task-team, Ikharo Attah said he had been adequately briefed about the development and expressed confidence in the ability of the FCT Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma to apprehend the erring personnel and mete out appropriate sanctions.
He said: “Yes, I have been briefed about the unfortunate development. The Head, Legal Department of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board AEPB, Barrister Cecilia Makoji called to notify me of the ugly incident.
“While I cannot give you details, I can assure you that the FCT Police Commissioner, Mr Bala Ciroma, who is our overall chairman and supervises our activities is on top of the matter. As a no-nonsense man that the CP is, I want to plead with you to be rest assured that the matter would be handled appropriately.”
Attah had in April lamented the general lack of compliance to the safety protocols, stating that most of the serial violators are uniformed personnel.