Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
A cloud of anger and trepidation has enveloped Abia State following the continuous killing of citizens by security agents enforcing the lockdown order by state government to checkmate the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Although the state is yet to record any case of COVID-19 infection, security agents have so far killed five persons since the lockdown, which is now in its third week.
The latest extra-judicial killing, which sparked riots and burning of public properties, including police stations and high court, occurred at Ebem Ohafia at the weekend when a young man identified as Ifeanyi Arunsi was shot dead by the police.
Reacting to the incident, a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr. Alex Otti, vehemently condemned the extrajudicial killings in the state by security agents, warning that it is “an avoidable invitation to anarchy.”
Otti expressed his “utmost sadness and disappointment” over the incessant killings in a statement signed by his media assistant, Ferdinand Ekeoma, noting that the lockdown ordered by the government to save citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic has been abused.
Describing the latest killing and others before it as “vicious, humiliating, senseless and highly provocative,” the 2019 APGA governorship candidate said: “It’s disgraceful and a clear manifestation of incompetence and unprofessionalism for security agents to have wasted five innocent lives of promising youths in different parts of the state, even when no single case of Coronavirus has been officially recorded in the state.”
He stated that there was no reason for security agents to be pulling the trigger without restraint in a state with no culture of violence or militancy, adding that Abia youths have always engaged in their businesses peacefully.
According to him, the peaceful disposition of Abia people should not “warrant the level of extreme violence being unleashed on the youths by extortionist security agents, who seem to have found the state as a fertile ground to make quick money.
“The incessant killing of Abia youths has the propensity to ignite uncontrollable violence and general breakdown of law and order,” he warned, citing the spontaneous protest and violence that erupted in Ohafia at the weekend.
Otti said since the Abia State Police Command has admitted that the policeman involved in the ugly incident were on illegal operation and under the influence of alcohol, decisive action should be taken against them.
However, he called on the state government to appeal to the Force Headquarters in Abuja to intervene and halt the incessant extra judicial murders since it appears the police command is helpless in dealing with the situation.
The state police command in a statement signed by the state Police Public Relations Officer, Geoffrey Ogbonna, acknowledged that a police officer fired the shot that killed the man at Ohafia.
He said the officers involved were neither on patrol nor lockdown enforcement operation, but were on their way back from a drinking joint where “they got drunk” and had issues with people offloading goods.
The PPRO further stated that the policeman who pulled the trigger had disappeared from the scene of the argument only to appear with a police rifle and started shooting sporadically thereby killing the young man.
He added that the police officers involved in the incident have been arrested and further investigation and eventual prosecution would follow.