Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Tragedy struck yesterday (Saturday) as a soldier reportedly opened fire on a tricycle at Jakpa Junction, Effurun, near Warri, resulting in the instant killing of woman who was on her way from her daughter’s wedding.
THISDAY learnt that the middle-aged woman had decided to take a commercial tricycle to a relation’s place near the venue of the wedding in order to make it on time as the state-wide compulsory monthly environmental sanitation was in progress. The wedding ceremony reportedly commenced very early in order to beat the sanitation exercise.
However, the soldiers was said to have flagged down the tricyclist at Jakpa Junction, claiming it was not yet 10 a.m., the official time for ending the environmental sanitation exercise across the state.
However, one of the soldiers aimed his gun at the tricycle as the rider was apparently not going to stop, shooting dead the woman in the process.
THISDAY learnt that the incident occurred at about 8.30a.m., although the body of the deceased woman was brought to the Ekpan police state later, before being taking to the morgue by the police at about 10.10 a.m.
Amid sketchy and incoherent reports, the deceased mother was billed to preside at the bride’s wedding ceremony yesterday.
First daughter of the deceased, Alero, narrated the family’s ordeal to newsmen in Warri yesterday, confirming that the soldier fired a bullet straight at her mother hitting her in the chest just under her left breast.
Alero expressed regret that the soldier who killed her mother had not been arrested by was rather whisked away by other soldiers.
Earlier report said the trigger-happy soldier had tried to force the tricyclist to take the woman to the hospital when full impact of his action dawned on him, but that the rider eventually escaped the scene, abandoning the woman who was already dead.
Pandemonium had ensued as angry youths in the neighbourhood allegedly mobilised and attempted to attack the soldier that fired the shot.
Members of the Joint Task Force (JTF) were said to have swiftly deployed troops to the area, who fired sporadically to prevent what might have been a bloody riot.
The Delta State Police Command spokeswoman, Mrs. Celestina Kalu (DSP), confirmed the killing, noting that police operatives were currently investigating the incident.
She dismissed insinuation that the trigger-happy soldier might escape justice, noting that there was standard procedure in arresting an erring soldier if the army authorities failed to voluntarily hand him over.
Kalu further explained that the matter was reported at the Ekpan Police Station, near Warri, by the daughter of the victim, who told the police that her mother was killed by bullet fired by a soldier at Jakpa Junction.
The police public relations officer noted that the corpse of the woman was brought to the station by some soldiers, adding that the police subsequently deposited the corpse in a hospital mortuary.
She said initial rumour that the soldier shot dead a bride on her way to her wedding was not correct as it was the mother of the bride who was wedding yesterday (Saturday) that was killed by the soldier.
Efforts to get the reaction or clarification from the Commanding Officer of ‘3’ Battalion, Nigerian Army, Effurun, Major Azanku, about the shooting incident and the soldier involved were not successful.
Meanwhile, THISDAY learnt that close family members had to devise some excuse so that the wedding could go on, by concealing the actual cause of the absence of the dead woman.