Judex Okoro, Calabar
Tragedy struck residents of Abitu Avenue in Calabar South of Cross River State as a young man ,Victor, was set ablaze by angry mob for stealing fowls. A source alleged that the victim had been one of the hardened criminals living within the area and had been terrorising the residents especially those who return late at night. The tragic incident occurred about 5:00 am by Abitu Avenue-Ekpo Edem junction on Tuesday morning.
A witness, Eyo Akpan, said that the victim was into petty stealing and constantly harassing residents in the area and in the process maimed some. Akpan said luck ran out on the young man when vigilance group caught him running away with a bag full of fowls suspected to have been stolen from a nearby poultry farm. When confronted, Victor challenged the vigilance groups and brought out a machete and a big hammer to attack them and the security men shouted for help, subsequently leading to mob action.
Akpan said: “The victim has been a notorious criminal and a leader of one of the gangs that extort money and collect illegal tickets. Besides, he has stolen items such as car battery, radios, generators and livestock within the neighbourhood.
“Most times residents are afraid of confronting him. But we prayed that one day he would meet his Waterloo. Last year, he was caught by a group of boys coming back from fishing and the vigilance intercepted and got him freed. Then, he was warned to desist from criminal activities,but he came as usual in the early hours of yesterday to steal some fowls and on his way out of the street, the fowls started making noise which attracted some members of the vigilance team.
“He attempted to escape and even brought out a big hammer before he was rounded up by the youths who refused to let him off the hook this time. For fearing that his gang could launch a counter offensive to free him, the angry youths hurriedly beat him up and set him ablaze for stealing fowls.” Akpan stated.
Cross River State Police Public Relations Officer(PPRO), ASP Irene Ugbo, said she has been called by a resident informing her that somebody was lynched. She said the divisional police officer of Calabar South was yet to brief her officially . She promised to give details of the incident, regretting the recurrence of such a barbaric act. Irene had, in a public enlightenment campaign, warned members of the public to desist from taking laws into their hands: “Though police do not support criminals and criminal activities in any way, but it is high time we stopped this jungle justice which is against the law.”