The Ebonyi Police Command on Tuesday confirmed the death of one of its officers from head injuries, sustained during a reprisal attack by some commercial motorcyclists in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that crisis erupted in Abakaliki on April 26 when a police sergeant, Onyebuchi Nweke, shot and killed a commercial motorcyclist, Ejike Offim, over alleged refusal to offer him N50.
The town was enveloped in protests by commercial motorcycle riders who engaged the police in bitter clashes that resulted in serious injuries to seven police officers.
Loveth Odaa, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PPRO), told NAN that the deceased officer, Monday Ekong, an inspector, died from head injuries sustained in the clashes.
Ms Odaa, who noted that the officer hailed from Akwa Ibom, said the command spent over N1.6 million for his treatment before he died last Friday in a hospital in Enugu.
“The hospital demanded for N3 million for his treatment and the amount we spent covered expenses from the Federal Teaching Hospital Abakaliki (FETHA) to the hospital he was referred to in Enugu.
“The protesters pelted the officers with concrete stones which resulted in the serious head injuries he sustained and left other officers seriously injured.
“We are presently in the court of public opinion and asking the public if we would be right to charge the arrested protesters with murder,’’ she said.
She added that she was nearly lynched by the mob that day on her way to a radio station to appeal for calm on the part of the protesters.
“My vehicle was, however, seriously damaged because we were imploring the commercial motorcyclists to be calm and maintain peace as a result of the incident,’’ she said.
The spokesperson noted that the loss of the officer and severe injuries to the others was uncalled for as the officer who shot Mr Offim is currently facing prosecution.
“The officer has been tried departmentally, dismissed from the force and has been charged to court over his act,’’ she said.
Governor David Umahi had on Monday during an enlarged security meeting of stakeholders and heads of security agencies in the state, announced the death of the officer.
Mr Umahi noted that the incident was unfortunate as the government would critically review the situation to prevent recurrence.
“We have seen that two wrongs cannot make a right with the Commissioner of Police (CP), dismissing the erring officer over his actions.
“The officer is not from another tribe but an Igbo man and the press is not reporting this incident or the other police officers that were injured.
“I commend the CP for his mature handling of the matter as the state government would assist in the dead officer’s burial,’’ he said.
An official of the commercial motorcyclists union in the state, who pleaded anonymity, urged the police to immediately release his members arrested over the protest.
“We have the right to protest the killing of our member over N50 because there is no law in the country which stipulates that we should offer money to the police while carrying out our duties,’’ he said.
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