Owerri market controversy: Police investigate death of boy killed during demolition

Police on patrol

The police have launched an investigation into the death of 10-year-old Somtochukwu Ibeanusi, who was killed on Saturday at the Owerri main market of Imo State during a midnight demolition exercise.

The state government carried out the demolition with soldiers and other security operatives providing cover for the team.

But traders and youth protested leading to the military reportedly opening fire on them. One of the bullets hit Somtochukwu who was helping his parents evacuate their goods, and he died on the spot.

The father of the deceased, Isaiah Ibeanusi, had accused soldiers from the 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, of killing his son.

The Imo state Commissioner of Police, Chris Ezike, told PREMIUM TIMES that the command launched an investigation into the killing.

“The case file had been transferred from the Owerri Urban Police Division to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, SCIID,” he said.

The police boss also said the parents of the child have been invited to make further statements.

“We will carry out an extensive investigation. A post-mortem would be conducted on the corpse. We are saddened by the development, but we would unravel the cause of the death.”

Hedebunked reports of intimidation of the parents by the police adding that the police “have no reason to try to sweep the matter under the carpet.”

Similarly, the leadership of 34 Artillery Brigade has denied the allegation that Somtochukwu was gunned down by soldiers.

The spokesperson of the brigade, Haruna Tarwai, in a statement said attributing the death of the boy to the soldiers “was malicious and was intended to put the army in public disrepute.”

“Soldiers, who were deployed at the scene, were stationed at the exit points of the market to prevent hoodlums from stealing goods and wares belonging to the traders,’’ he told PREMIUM TIMES.


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