Anger, grief and confusion raged at the undulating Okwelle Community, in the Onuimo council area of Imo State on Wednesday, when a Police Sergeant, Aba Itam allegedly shot dead a 20-year old tipper conductor, Ifeanyi Okafor.
It was learnt that the tragedy occurred at about 5am at a T-Junction, adjacent to Okwelle Police Divisional headquarters, on the ever-busy Okigwe-Owerri Expressway.
Investigations reveal that there was a misunderstanding between the trigger-happy police sergeant and the conductor. Sergeant Itam is said to be an indigene of Cross River State.
Itam and three of his colleagues were said to be on a stop-and-search duty on the road. They were said to have ordered the tipper driver with number plate AAH229XA and other vehicles including trucks to clear off the road.
After a while, the sergeant was said to have released other vehicles to go but kept the tipper driver and the deceased waiting.
Having waited for some time for the seargeant to release them but all to no avail, the deceased was said to have approached him to ascertain why they still being delayed without any cogent reason.
Furious at Ifeanyi effrontery, Itam who was said to be wielding an AK 47 rifle reportedly opened fire at the hapless Ifeanyi at a very close range on his neck and he died instantly.
Itam and his colleagues were said to have fled from the scene on noticing that he had killed Ifeanyi.
Angered by the gory incident, youth of the area were said to have promptly mobilized themselves and attacked the Okwelle Police station and set it ablaze, after breaking the perimeter fence at the back.
It was learnt that, the fire was eventually brought under control before it could wreck havoc.
A police officer at the station who pleaded anonymity told newsmen that the sad incident occurred around 5am and “while we were in the field trying to control the situation, some irate youths regrouped around 7am, attacked our station and destroyed some items.
They brought down the perimeter fence from the rear. It was from that end that they gained entrance to the station. They attacked the Police Corporals quarters and vandalized it. They attacked the counter session and also a Prado jeep parked within the premises–the windows were pelted with stones. They set the station on fire but we were able to quench the fire”.
According to the tipper driver, John Ibe, the deceased joined him in the business barely three weeks ago. “He was a quiet boy who hardly can hurt a fly.”
The father of the deceased, Isaac Okafor, told newsmen that he was informed about the death of his son on phone.
Okafor, who hails from Lokpa-Ukwu, in Umunneochi council area of Abia State, said, he was with his son the previous day before his untimely death.
He appealed to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, and Imo State Commissioner of Police, Chris Okey Ezike, to ensure that justice is done.
Ezike, who later spoke to newsmen, disclosed that the killer cop had been arrested, while the AK47 has been recovered from him.
“From the preliminary investigation, the shooting was unprofessional. I have therefore, asked the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to take over the investigation.
The suspect and his rifle are with us but most importantly, my heart goes to the family of the deceased. I also want to urge the youth not to take laws into their hands.
Under my watch, justice must be done. I have asked all concerned sections of the command to swing into action immediately” Ezike assured.