Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
The Executive Director of a human rights group, Centre for the Vulnerable and the Underprivileged (CentreP), Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, has decried the alleged shooting and killing of a woman, Mrs Alice Akparobi, by a soldier in Effurun, near Warri, Delta State, last Saturday.
Mrs Akparobi, who was a mother of four children and a typist with the Delta State Judiciary attached to the Magistrate’s Court, was allegedly killed by the soldier at an army checkpoint at Jakpa Junction, Effurun.
According to a statement by Ikimi, the death of Akparobi, 53, was unwarranted as she was on her way to her daughter’s wedding before the soldier allegedly shot and killed her.
He said: “Citizen Alice Akparobi had on the 30th day of April, 2016, a sanitation day in Delta State, boarded a tricycle and was heading for her daughter’s church wedding same day when they were flagged down by a five-man team of armed soldiers at the said checkpoint, but rather than obey the soldiers, the said tricycle rider refused to stop and one of the soldiers in the process opened fire on the said tricycle hitting the deceased who was a passenger in the said tricycle.
“Citizen Alice Akparobi was abandoned by the said soldiers in the pool of her blood and after 20 minutes of the deceased wailing in the pool of her blood she gave up the ghost as the soldiers refused to help.”
Ikimi argued that there was no law in Nigeria which empowers any soldier to restrict the movement of citizens during environmental sanitation days or shoot commuters because a driver or tricycle rider failed to stop at a checkpoint.
He also condemned the soldiers’ action after the shooting of the deceased as they allegedly refused to save the dying woman and prevented sympathisers from saving her life after the motorcyclist had fled the scene.
“We condemn the above incident as barbaric and we call on the Army authorities to apprehend the said soldier and hand him over to the police for a murder trial as there is no law that restricts the movement of Nigerians neither on a sanitation day nor is there a law that gives a soldier the power to shoot at commuters at an army checkpoint if the vehicle or tricycle they board refuses to stop.
“We believe that what the erring soldier should have done was to jot down the registration number of the said tricycle or its codification number boldly written on the said tricycle instead of resorting to killing an innocent commuter.
“Eyewitnesses interviewed by CentreP were able to identify one of the soldiers at the scene with the name tag of E. K. Christian and an Army truck with the inscription of Nigerian Army–008.
“Eyewitnesses interviewed also informed CentreP that the soldiers fled the scene of the shooting after they allowed the victim to bleed to death as the same soldiers neither helped the victim nor allowed passersby to render assistance to the said victim,” the statement said.
“CentreP has formally written a letter to the commanding officer of the ‘3’ Battalion, Effurun where the said erring soldiers are attached, and the Chief of Army Staff on the above issue, and we shall not hesitate to commence legal action against the Army authorities in the event of a cover-up,” Ikimi added.
THISDAY gathered that there was widespread outrage in the area, as there were reported attempts by the youths to confront the soldier, but the immediate reinforcement of military personnel to the scene prevented the confrontation as the soldiers were said to have shot sporadically into the air to disperse the youths.
The spokesperson of the Delta State Police Command, Mrs Celestina Kalu, while confirming the report to THISDAY, said standard procedure would be followed by the police to apprehend the erring soldier in the unlikely event that the Nigerian Army failed to voluntarily hand him over.
She said Akparobi’s corpse had last Saturday been deposited at the mortuary of the Central Hospital, Warri by the police from Ekpan Division, Kalu.