Extra-judicial killings by the Nigeria Police occur frequently across the country and even though the development presents a negative posture of them to the outside world, it has a long history of existence in Nigeria.
It was indeed another sad day as a fuel attendant was “accidentally” killed in Aba by a police Inspector who was on an enforcement operation in Aba.
The Executive order signed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State prohibiting movements of persons in the state, was seen to have empowered security agencies and the state government task force to ensure compliance with the order. However, among those exempted by the order were petrol stations which will operate throughout the period.
“Any station that closes or increases pump price will risk sanctions including possible revocation of certificate of occupancy of the property. Cooking gas stations are also exempted,” part of the order read.
The victim, identified as Godwin Chibuisi, 26, was a petrol attendant at the Green Mark Energy filling station located along New Umuahia Road in the commercial city of Aba when he was killed.
Chibuisi was said to have been shot in the waist, with the bullet piercing his pelvic bone horizontally, and he died on getting to the hospital.
The trigger-happy police inspector – Mr. Stanley Asu, was the leader of the team from Ohuru Isimiri police station, on patrol to enforce the lockdown.
According to a police source, who did not want his identity disclosed, the inspector, who was attempting to stop a vehicle that violated the lockdown order, had mistakenly touched his riffle’s trigger, releasing the bullet that hit Godwin, who later died in the hospital. He described the incident as accidental discharge.
An eyewitness, Dr Cyril Irobi, who spoke with our reporter, said that a customer had driven into the petrol station in the afternoon and bought fuel but on his way out, a police patrol team stopped him.
He said that the fuel attendant apparently sensing that their customer could be in trouble, went to plead with the policemen to let him go since he was diabetic and had come out to get his drugs and, on his way home, stopped to buy fuel.
“The fuel attendant was pleading with the policemen to leave the man when a gun shot sounded,” the eye witness said.
Speaking with our reporter, Abia State Police Commissioner, Ene Okon, confirmed the arrest of the officer and said the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) has taken over the matter.
CP Okon said the police as an institution does not take such incidents lightly. “That police inspector was arrested immediately and detained. As I’m talking to you, SCID has taken over the matter and are investigating the police inspector for murder.
“We have our rules of engagement, we have our standard of operation and procedure and we have our own Force Order 237 as reviewed. That order has to do with when a police officer has to use his firearm and it’ll be justified,” Okon said.
Speaking further Okon said, “It’s not an excuse for you to say accidental discharge. A trained officer on such assignment should put his riffle on safety. The riffle has safety and once you put it there, it’ll not just release.
“So, it’s not an excuse that he mistakenly touched the trigger. That’s why we detained him and are seriously investigating the whole matter.”
Meanwhile, residents who spoke to our reporter called on the Abia State government to ensure that the trigger-happy officer does not go unpunished as his recklessness has caused the family of the deceased serious pain.
Mr. Kenneth Enwereuzor said that the victim was killed because the officer does not value human life as there are other means of catching an offender without shooting at him.
“The governor should step things up before they’ll sweep this under the carpet. Even if he had shot and killed the person inside the vehicle he was chasing, will it be justified?
“Some of these policemen need to be taken for proper psychiatric test because I don’t understand why someone will shoot a fellow human being without any suspicion of him being armed or committing any heinous crime,” he said.
James Okoro, another resident, said “This is not the first time the law enforcement agents will do this type of thing. Last year, a soldier shot and killed a motorcyclist in Umuokereke Ngwa, in Aba, simply because he refused to give him money.
“They said they’ve taken him to court and up till today, we don’t know if he has been convicted or not. Maybe he has been convicted, but they need to have told us what happened so that it will serve as a deterrent to some crazy armed officers who may commit the same offence.
“Now, a police officer has killed an innocent young man because he was chasing another person who refused to stay at home. What’s really wrong with people here? He must not go unpunished. Abia State government should do something serious about it.”
Miss Florence Oluchukwu, a staff of Greenmac Energy Ltd, who spoke to our reporter, said her late colleague hailed from Bende Local Government in Abia North senatorial district.
Florence said the police team had attempted to escape when they realised that the gunshot was fatal but some soldiers around the scene stopped them. It was then that the victim was rushed to the hospital but he did not make it.
She said the elder sister of the deceased has gone to the village to formerly inform the family of the death of her younger brother.
Florence said there was no confrontation between her late colleague and the police officer, but she couldn’t explain how the bullet hit her colleague.
She however confirmed that the filling station has been shut down for now.
Efforts to reach the deceased’s sister prove abortive, as Florence said she does not have her contact information.