The fragile peace in the commercial city of Onitsha was yesterday disrupted as residents took to the streets in protest of the killing of a bus driver suspected to be a member of the Movement of the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) by policemen in one of the illegal checkpoints.
According to an eyewitness account, the incident occurred when driver of a coaster bus with registration number AA 768AHD, simply identified as Edwin, escaped a checkpoint by ABS junction, and was pursued by one of the policemen who caught up with him and deflated his tires and subsequently shot him on the neck, killing him instantly.
The conductor of the bus, Samuel Ekwueme, who was weeping profusely, said that the driver, gave the policemen N20 which they refused and insisted that he should give them N50, “my oga said that he had paid in the previous trip and drove off but we did not know that one of them was following us on a motorbike and he intercepted us and shot my oga on the neck and quickly escaped”.
It was gathered that another passenger in the bus sustained bullet wounds when the trigger happy cop opened fire on the bus before he escaped.
The situation however took a dangerous turn when the angry mob comprising of drivers and okada riders, went on a rampage with the corpse of the driver , attacking Hausas and looting their shops in possible reprisal.
The bus was said to be fully loaded with passengers who took off from Nkpor junction and was heading to the Ose Main market, Onitsha when the incident happened as the passengers scampered for safety.
One of the passengers who gave her name as Ifeoma Obi told The Nation that the deceased did not do anything that warranted his murder, adding “its was just pure wickedness on the side of the policeman who because of just N20 wasted this young man’s life”
She also said that when the policeman first shot at the tires of the vehicle, the deceased who was the driver could not move again, a situation she said helped the killer cop to shoot at the deceased from closed range, shattering the glass of the vehicle.
However, the situation took an ethnic coloration as drivers and other hoodlums in the commercial city went on rampage demanding the elimination of Hausa people on the ground that the policeman who shot the deceased was a Hausa man.
The situation also escalated when the angry mob descended on the police team earlier sent by the Anambra state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Muhtari Ibrahim to reach and appeal to the rampaging crowd which led to the policemen retreating to avoid further casualties.
It was gathered that the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Central Police Station, Mr. Abdul Yusuf escaped death by the whiskers when the angry mob descended on him when he led his men to the scene of the incident.
The angry mob also went on the rampage in different parts of the commercial city hunting for Hausa people who led to many of them taking refuge at the Central Police Station, CPS and other police stations within the city, with many others around the Bridgehead crossing over to Asaba, the Delta state capital.
Reacting to the Development, the new Igbo leader, Chief Ralph Uwazurike advised the members of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB not to touch any Hausa people buts should dismantle every police check points within the area with immediate effect.
According to Chief Uwazurike who spoke through his second in command, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka, the dismantling of all police check point became necessary at a time when the safety of Ndigbo is no longer safe even in their land.
“ For a Hausa policeman to kill an Igbo driver here because of mere N20 shows that the policeman is a Boko Haram member but we have urged MASSOB members to leave Hausa people alone because they are not our problem, they should concentrate on dismantling all police check points within the area” he said.
Meanwhile when contacted, the Anambra state Police Commissioner, Mr. Muhtari Ibrahim said the killer cop had been arrested and will soon undergo orderly room trial and prosecution and called on the rampaging crowd to calm down as efforts to resolve the matter had commenced.