•Residents raise the alarm over activities of robbers
Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Last Thursday, Abakaliki was in turmoil. Clashes in various parts of the metropolis between policemen and protesting commercial motorcycle operators disrupted the peace of the Ebonyi State capital.
The heavy protests erupted following the alleged killing of a commercial motorcycle operator, popularly known as okada, at ANAN World Junction, along Waterworks Road in the capital city.
The victim, whose name was given as Mr. Ofim Ejike, was allegedly shot dead the previous night at a checkpoint mounted by police operatives of the Anti-Kidnap (AK) Squad. The name of the suspected killer was given as Sergeant Onyebuchi.
To register their displeasure, commercial motorcycle operators, relatives and friends of the deceased embarked on a protest. Many rode on motorcycles brandishing leaves and on major roads and streets chanting anti-police songs. Economic activities were paralysed, even as human and vehicular movement was grounded in various parts of the metropolis.
The protesters also made bonfires in various parts of the state capital. Areas mostly affected were Waterworks Road, Ogoja Road, Vanco Junction, ANAN World Junction, Udemezue Street, Awolowo Street, and the CAS Campus area of the Ebonyi State University.
Eyewitnesses said the deceased, who was in his 20s, was flagged down by policemen who mounted a roadblock at the junction. The policemen allegedly demanded N50 from him to be allowed to pass. The man, who was transporting a female passenger, reportedly gave the policemen N20 instead. One of the policemen allegedly opened fire on him immediately, killing him instantly. He said the policemen thereafter fled the scene in their patrol van, leaving the victim a pool of his blood.
Some residents of the area, including Mr. Odinaka and Miss Akachukwu Paul, lamented that the clashes between the policemen and the motorcyclists had caused unnecessary tension in the state capital.
Police public relations officer in the state, Mrs. Loveth Odah, an assistant superintendent of police, confirmed the incident. She said, however, that the trigger-happy policeman had been dismissed from service and would be charged to court the following day.
She expressed sadness over the incident, even as she vowed that the culprit would not go unpunished, in accordance with the law and rules of engagement.
Meanwhile, a police officer allegedly injured with a stone by the protesters has been confirmed dead.
Confirming this to Daily Sun, the PPRO said the deceased, whose name she gave as Inspector Monday Ekon, died last Friday after efforts to revive him failed.
She said the state police command already deposited N1.6 million out of the N3 million demanded by the hospital management before the policeman died.
“He died 24 hours after he was stoned around 10:32am that Thursday,” she said. “They were on patrol in a convoy of nine vehicles and they were the people at the back. A stone hit his head and injured him.”
As it is now, residents of some quarters in Abakaliki, especially in Amike-Aba, now sleep with both eyes wide open!
This is as a result of the nefarious activities of criminals operating in the area. So far, journalists and other residents have fallen victim.
The reporter gathered that the hoodlums reportedly camp at St. Patrick’s Primary School premises every night, from where they carry out their operations. Some residents of Amike-Aba told our correspondent that they now live in fear.
Some journalists are currently counting their losses following the invasion of their homes by burglars who made away with their valuables. Two of the victims are the correspondent of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (Radio Nigeria), Mr. Amechi Odo, and Mr. Moses Erogu of the Ebonyi State Broadcasting Service.
Odo said he went to bed at about 2am on the fateful day, but was alerted by his wife around 3am that her phone, with which she was to travel that morning, was nowhere to be found. Daily Sun gathered that it was in the process of searching for the phone that it dawned on the family that their home had been burgled.
Amechi wondered how the burglars climbed the storey building, broke the burglary proof, and operated between 2am and 3am with ease, moving from one room to the other, while the family slept.
“We later moved into the parlour where we saw our plasma television, which I hung on the wall, already brought down and kept on the table. It was then that I looked at the window and noticed that the burglary proof had been broken, through which someone gained access into my apartment.
“When I checked the door to my parlour, I noticed that somebody unlocked it as well. So, I now decided to piece it together to know how the person managed to carry out his operation.
“This is because I have a protector at the balcony. So, even if you climb my apartment with a ladder, you’ll have to scale the balcony protector and possibly force yourself through the little space in-between the protector and the deck of the third floor.
“So, I am just suspecting that the person scaled through it to the balcony. The door linking my apartment and the staircase was locked before we went to bed. So, the person didn’t access the staircase door.
“Immediately the person entered my balcony, he used a heavy, sharp equipment to break one of the pipes of the protector and gain access into my house and robbed us.
“They took away my wife’s Tecno L9 phone, N40,000 that was inside her handbag, and a Nokia phone. They went into my house help’s room and took her phone,” Amechi narrated.
He told Daily Sun that he had reported the matter to the police but was yet to get a positive response from them, at the time of this report.
On his part, Erogu said that the burglars broke into his home as soon as he left for church with his family.
“I dropped my family off because I had a function. It was around 11:45am same day that my wife called to tell me that our house had been burgled.
“The criminals scaled the wall with a ladder and jumped into the compound when we had all left. They made their way into the house by breaking through the parlour. They ransacked the children’s room and mine and made away with our valuables.
“They stole our bag of rice, my son’s pair of shoes, which I bought recently, some foodstuff, baby milk, my sister’s mobile phone and N23,000 cash that we kept in the house among others.
“I made complaints to the police immediately that Sunday. I thank God that the following day, after I had reported the matter to the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Internal Security, Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, he made frantic efforts and mobilised the members of Neighbourhood Watch who came to my area in Nkaliki and were able to apprehend the suspect.
“They discovered so many other things that he had stolen from unsuspecting residents like plasma TVs, and so many other items,” he said.
On this development, Odah promised that security would be beefed up in the affected areas. She, however, urged the public to report their security concerns to the police, asserting that the law enforcement agents could only work with information made available to them.