Two persons were on Tuesday shot dead by the police while protesting the death of a mechanic under police custody in Kabusa, a suburb of Abuja.
Gbenga Shittu, the mechanic who was taken into custody since Thursday last week, May 13, 2021, died yesterday, sparking protests from residents.
Family sources said Shittu, who lived in Pyakasa, another suburb on Airport Road, Abuja, had knocked down a commercial motorcyclist in Kabusa, on Thursday, and was arrested by the police and kept in custody till he died on Monday.
Aso Chronicle learnt that his death triggered protest against the police in the area, and while trying to contain the agitation which was becoming riotous, the police shot and killed two residents, a student and a trader, on Tuesday morning.
A friend and neighbour of the deceased Shittu, who spoke to Aso Chronicle under condition of anonymity, said, “We did not see Gbenga for like four days and when we got wind of what happened, we went to the police this morning. We were told that Gbenga was dead but they did not produce his corpse.
“And we also learnt that the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) caused everything because the victim whom Gbenga knocked down was treated by the owner of the car he was driving, but the IPO insisted that he must post bail of N20, 000.”
A Yoruba community leader in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Bayo Adewale, corroborated the story.
He said the determination of the police to extort the mechanic, even after the accident victim was settled by the owner of the car, caused the deaths and violence.
“We heard that there was a crisis in Kabusa between Hausa and Yoruba but when we got there, we discovered it was not true.
“What actually happened was that the death of the mechanic in police custody triggered protests which got violent and resulted in two more deaths,” he said.
An eyewitness, who gave his name as Arowax, said the violence ensued when residents heard that somebody had died in police custody and they trooped there to confirm.
He said the sheer number of the residents frightened the police who panicked and shot sporadically, killing two persons instantly.
The FCT Police Command had issued a statement whose facts contradicted those narrated by residents.
But when contacted to straighten the facts, the command’s spokesperson, ASP Mariam Yusuf, said when incidents like that happen, people say whatever they want; insisting that “I don’t want to go beyond what is in the statement.”
Her statement read thus: “The Police Command of the Federal Capital Territory, on Tuesday, 18th May, 2021, restored calm at Kabusa axis following a violent protest by some residents of the area who were agitating over a suspect who was earlier rescued from an angry mob for knocking down two passengers on Monday, 17th May, 2021, leaving them with fatal injuries.
“Unfortunately, the suspect who had been beaten to pulp by the angry mob as a result fell ill and was rushed to the hospital for treatment where the doctor certified him dead.
“In view of the above, some residents of Kabusa, during the violent protest, attempted to overrun the Divisional Headquarters but were resisted by a Joint Team of Police Operatives.
“Regrettably, in the bid to restore calm, one young resident sustained serious injuries and is currently receiving medical attention.
“In view of the above, the Commissioner of Police, CP Bala Ciroma, sympathises with the families of the victims and has ordered a discrete investigation into the incident.
“The command implores residents to remain calm and law-abiding, while reaffirming its unwavering commitment to the protection of lives and property within the FCT.
“The Command further implores residents to report all suspicious movements, emergency or distress, through these numbers: 08032003913, 08061581938, 07057337653, 08028940883 and to report the conduct of police officers, call the Public Complaint Bureau (PCB) number: 09022222352.”