By Augustine Anioke
Ebonyi State Police Command has arrested no fewer than 10 youths over the killing of a youth and burning of houses including that of the Abakaliki local government Chairman.
The youths of Ebyia Unuphu village had on Monday gone on rampage following the killing of one of them by a local vigilante group who were said to have been brought to the village by an Aide to the Chairman.
The youths had also mobilized to the Aide’s house and burnt it down before proceeding to a hotel in Abakaliki town also owned by the Aide to burn it down.
Police arrived and shot sporadically killing a Pastor, who was praying in a nearby building.
The Police in a statement by the spokesman, Levi Philip said Commissioner of Police, said it arrested over 10 persons involved in the incidents.
He said: ‘Recall that at about 10:00 pm on September 19, 2021, some irate youth of Ebia Unuphu Community in their numbers invaded the houses of one Okechukwu Onyibe aka Bosco and one Emmanu Nwangele ‘m’ the Chairman of Abakaliki LGA from Ebiya Unuphu Community and set their houses ablaze”.
He said the youth alleged that Bosco who owns Bosco Guest House in Abakaliki caused the death of one Oluchi Nwibo ‘m’ aged 18yrs a youth from the Community.
“‘Same youths mobilized to Bosco Guest House along Hatchery road Abakaliki in a bid to set the guest house ablaze, but they were repelled by Police Operatives on ground”.
“In the early hours of 20th September 2021, the same youths of the Community regrouped to further carry out their nefarious act of setting the Bosco guest house ablaze but were quickly repelled by security Operatives on ground”.
On the death of the Pastor, obviously by Police stray bullets the spokesperson described the death as unfortunate.
He claimed that the Pastor, one Emeka Ogbonna, aged 45 years was killed in a gun duel which ensued between security operatives and the irate youths who he alleged were heavily armed with sophisticated weapons.
“One Pastor Emeka Ogbonna ‘m’ aged 45yrs who reside opposite the hotel was hit by a stray bullet and was rushed to the hospital where he was confirmed dead by a medical doctor on call”he said.
Mr Philip said about ten 10 of the irate youths who took part in the burning of the houses have been arrested.
He also noted that the SA to the Chairman, Okechukwu Onyibe aka Bosco is also in Police custody.
“Investigation is ongoing to ascertain the main cause of the chaos.
“The Commissioner of Police while calling on residents of the state to remain vigilant and law-abiding urging them to go about their lawful businesses”, he said
The spokesman further reassured all and sundry of the command’s capability, resolve and commitment to deal decisively with trouble makers and any form of harassment or intimidation of innocent members of the public by any person or group of persons under whatever guise.
The Police’s claim that the youths were armed with sophisticated weapons could not be immediately ascertained
Videos of the youths protesting and marching to the the hotel which circulated on social media did not show any of them bearing any ‘sophisticated weapons’ as alleged by the Police.
Also, residents of the area including co-tenants in the late pastor’s building also said the youths did not bear any arms.
The tenants and residents who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of police victimisation said the police arrived and started shooting sporadically to scare the youths aware.
Second Police killing in two weeks
This is the second killing of innocent bystanders by Police in the state within two weeks.
On September 8, one Elizabeth Agwu was killed by the Police in the state at Enuagu Onicha Igboeze village of the Onicha local government area.
She was the younger sister to the Ebonyi State Correspondent of Sun Newspapers, Mr Chijioke Agwu..
Mr Agwu had said the Police came to the village to arrest somebody and on leaving shot sporadically killing her sister who was trading at a roundabout in the area.
But the Police claimed it was engaged in a shootout by gunmen who are believed to be members of the Indigenous People of Biafra and its military arm, Eastern Security Network (ESN).
But residents and eye witnesses including a lawmaker from the area debunked the claim alleging that the shooting by the police officers was unprovoked.