A 20-year-old apprentice, Chidozie Okafor, was shot dead on St. Micheal’s Road, Aba, Abia State, on Monday as military men moved in to check a protest by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)
A witness, who identified himself simply as Okechukwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Mr. Okafor was returning to the shop where he was learning a trade after having his lunch at a food kiosk on St. Michael’s road by York Road when tragedy struck.
According to him, the military men shot at IPOB members who made bonfires on the road, obstructing traffic and telling people to close their shops.
He said that Mr. Okafor, a native of Omuohu in Eziagu Local Government Area of Enugu state, was the only son of his parents.
The witness further said the victim came to Aba in 2015 to learn trade in electronic appliances, empty discs and cassettes and was until his death, an apprentice at a shop on St. Michael’s Road neighbourhood.
NAN reports that another victim, fondly called Taata, who was hit on the belly, died while being rushed to the Abia State University Teaching Hospital after the New Era Hospital had rejected him.
Another witness, who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, said the military men began shooting at the protesters after they seized two guns from the military men.
He also said the protesters demolished two new traffic warden’s stands along Asa road during the protest.
Meanwhile, the Abia State Police Commissioner, Habila Joshack, said he was not aware of the deaths.
Mr. Joshack said he was not sure that his men used live bullets as they had been instructed to manage the protests in such a manner that lives and property would be protected.
He warned that protesters in Abia should know that the ban on public protests had not been lifted, hence no one was allowed to threaten the lives of others or put them in fear.
The commissioner said the act of setting bonfires on the road to obstruct traffic was an act of recklessness and lawlessness which must be stopped, to ensure peace.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Sidi Umar, the Commanding Officer, 44 Battalion, Asa, who is in charge of Aba metropolis, told NAN that he would investigate the matter to ascertain the veracity of the claim that deaths were recorded.
However, Mr. Umar, a lieutenant colonel, said his men arrested some protesters who were handed over to the police for further action. (NAN)