The Abia State Government has countered a claim made by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, over the recent killing of a petrol attendant in the state.
Mr Mohammed, during a recent briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19 said the man was killed by a motorist, and not the police.
“The petrol attendant was not actually killed by the policeman,” Mr Mohammed had said. “Fact at our possession is that the policeman hit a Keke, people were protesting so during the protest another motorist hit the petrol attendant.”
Continuing, he said, “Well, it does not matter who killed, a life is very precious but we just wanted to establish the fact of the matter that the petrol attendant actually died when he was hit by an oncoming vehicle during the protest.”
The Commissioner for Information in Abia, John Kalu, in a statement on Friday, however, insisted that the petrol attendant, Chibuisi Okameme, was shot dead by a police officer, contrary to the minister’s claims.
“The Honorable Minister was quoted to have said, among other things that, ‘What happened was that the policeman hit a Keke Napep and while the people were protesting, another oncoming vehicle hit the petrol attendant leading to his death’.
“Nothing can be further from the truth!” Mr Kalu said.
“We wish to state categorically that information available to us suggests that one Inspector Osas Atsu of Ohuru Isimiri Police Division, Aba, allegedly shot and killed the late petrol attendant, Mr Chibuisi Okameme, of Green Mac Filling Station, New Umuahia Road, Aba, by aiming and firing live bullets at him in broad daylight and in the presence of many shocked eyewitnesses.
“The police authorities in the state are currently detaining the suspect in preparation for prosecution after due orderly room trial.”
Abia state government said it was shocked by the statement credited to the minister. The state government insisted on justice for the slain man.
“Abia State Government wishes to call on the Police authorities to expedite the arraignment of the alleged murderer of Citizen Okameme as we will not accept any cover-up or conspiracy to do same from any quarters.
“May we reiterate that nothing short of justice for the grieving family and friends of the late hard-working young man will be acceptable to us.
“We also wish to call on the Honorable Minister to cross-check facts of the matter with the police authorities and immediately issue the necessary corrigendum to avoid being seen as part of a potential plot to cover up a matter that is certainly of public interest and which also involves the painful loss of human life through obvious abuse of firearms.” The commissioner said.
At least, four people have reportedly been killed in Abia state recently by security officials.
Apart from Abia, over a dozens people have been killed by security officials across the country while trying to enforce the government lockdown.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has condemned the killings and has, like many other rights groups, called for the prosecution of the offenders.
The NHRC said more Nigerians were killed illegally by the police during the first two weeks of government lockdown to prevent coronavirus spread than were killed by the virus.
“There were eight documented incidents of extra-judicial killing leading to 18 deaths,” the NHRC executive secretary, Tony Ojukwu, said in a report on April 15.
“Out of this number, 12 deaths were recorded in Kaduna State. Abia State also recorded two deaths arising from two incidents; while Delta, Niger, Ebonyi and Katsina states recorded one death each. ”
“Whereas COVID-19 has led to the death of about 11 patients to date, law enforcement agents have extra-judicially executed 18 persons to enforce the regulations.”
More extra-judicial killings have since occurred after the NHRC report.
PREMIUM TIMES this week reported how a ten years old boy was shot in the head in Jigawa while the police tried to shut down a market which violated government lockdown.
The boy eventually died in the hospital from the gunshot injury. The police in Jigawa, however, denied the shooting, claiming the boy was hit on the head by a stone thrown by persons protesting against the police.