George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Tension has enveloped Okpala autonomous community in Ngor Okpala council area of Imo State with reports of naval officers allegedly killing two youths at Okpala junction, forcing irate youths of the community to barricade the road in protest.
Daily Sun reliably gathered that some youths who were conveying a corpse in an ambulance on Monday were accosted by some naval personnel around the Okpala junction leading to Mbaise and that there was an altercation between the naval personnel and the youths.
It was learnt that the youths had explained to the military officers that they were conveying the corpse to the nearby village for burial.
The naval personnel had reportedly insisted on not allowing the youths to continue with the corpse and starting shooting sporadically to scare them away, an action which triggered pandemonium as the people within the scene scampered for safety. In the process of the fracas, stray bullets were said to have stricken two of the youths, killing them instantly.
Angered by the action of the naval personnel, the youths went on to barricade the junction, denying commuters access through it.
Anukam Ibeawuchi, an indigene of the community, complained that personnel of the Nigeria Navy have been harassing the people of the community and that the latest incident was caused by the naval men refusing to allow the youths, who were conveying a body in an ambulance to proceed, to their destination.
‘These naval men have been harassing the people of this community; they caused the ugly incident which resulted in the killing of two innocent youths,’ Ibeawuchi told Daily Sun.
‘The state governor had given people permission to bury their dead and I don’t see the reason why the Navy should be harassing people who had a body in an ambulance. The youths did not disturb anybody as they were conveying the corpse, but the Navy would not allow them.’
Spokesman of the Imo State Police Command Mr Orlando Ikeokwu, who confirmed the incident, said however that he was yet to be briefed regarding the full circumstances.