Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
There was growing anger on Thursday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, over the alleged extra-judicial murder of a teenager, Innocent Kokorifa, by the police in the state.
Already, youths, activists, clerics and civil organisations are mobilising to shut down the state capital this Friday over the incident which they described as unacceptable.
Seventeen-year-old Kokorifa was reportedly killed in cold blood by the Anti-Vice/Anti-Kidnapping squad of the police on August 18 along Airforce Road, about 11am in circumstances that were said to be mysterious.
But in a smart move, the police in anticipation of a backlash, immediately released a statement branding the youngster, who hailed from Okpotuari community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, an armed robbery suspect.
They however did not explain what he was stealing or investigations that led to his alleged culpability.
In a terse statement on Tuesday, the police said that on a tip-off, officers went to an uncompleted building along Airforce Road, Okaka, Yenagoa, to arrest a three man notorious armed robbery gang.
They continued, “On sighting the Police and in a frantic bid to escape, the robbers fired at the Police, the Police returned fire.
“ One of the suspects sustained a bullet injury, while the others escaped, abandoning one locally made Single Barrel pistol, one live cartridge, one expended cartridge and wraps of substances suspected to be Indian hemp.
“The wounded suspect was arrested and taken to the Federal Medical Centre, for treatment, but died few hours later. The deceased suspect was later identified as one Innocent Kokorifa.
But father of the late teenager, Mr. Daniel Kokorifa, an officer with the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), said his first child out of five children, was murdered.
The deceased’s father said the victim who was to turn 18 on September 9 was a peacemaker, a non-smoker who had no records of criminality.
“The lifeless body of my son was brought out by the mortuary attendant and I identified it as my son.
“I noticed that he was hit by a bullet which perforated his oesophagus.”
He added, “Innocent was a loving son, the kind of child every father would pray to have. He doesn’t smoke, neither does he keep friends or late night. He had no criminal record whatsoever and until his death, he was not of a questionable character.
“He recently sat for the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) and he was awaiting his result before they killed him. We need justice. Killers of my son must be fished out and brought to justice”.