From Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Two people were reportedly killed in Otukpo, Benue State, on Christmas Day after a policeman allegedly shot into a crowd during a music carnival, witnesses say.
Our correspondent gathered that the music carnival, organised by a young millionaire, was holding at Ochacho Avenue in Otukpo where the popular musician David Adeleke, popularly known as Davido, was billed to perform.
Sources from the area told reporters by telephone that the incident took place at the palatial residence of the young millionaire in Otukpo town.
Our source said the event had hardly taken off around 11:00 pm when the sounds of gunshots resonated within the premises, causing a stampede.
The shots might have been fired by one of the policemen believed to be on duty at the event, the source said.
‘The gunshots triggered a stampede which caused all of us to run out of the venue for safety. In the process of running, I saw two persons in the pool of their blood, a male and a female,’ said the witness.
‘The sound of gunshots made me run towards the gate in fear, as I did not know what was happening.
‘Several other people also took to their heels, although it was not easy for most people to identify the location of their vehicles.
‘Several onlookers stood aloof at the rail crossing and at You Road and Ibadan street in utter surprise,’ our source said.
The Council Chairman of Otukpo Local Government, George Alli, who confirmed the reports, disclosed that a young lady and young man died at the incident.
Alli said that the organiser of the music carnival flouted federal and state directives banning social gatherings due to second wave of COVID-19.
‘Yes, is true [that] there was an incident and two people died; a young lady and a young man died. Their corpses have been deposited at the hospital morgue,’ the local government chairman said.
‘I have spoken to the Area Commander and the Division Police Officer and they are investigating the incident. The gathering in the first place is not proper because the federal government has directed that there should be no social gathering and it was followed by the state government [directive]. There should be compliance with the directives.’
Asked if any punishment would be meted out to the organiser of the music carnival, the Otukpo council boss said he is already putting together his report which would be forwarded to the appropriate authorities for necessary action.
When contacted to confirm the reports, Benue State Police Command spokeswoman DSP Catherine Anene dismissed claims that the police had killed anyone in Otukpo.
‘Police did not kill anybody in Otukpo,’ she said.