Four policemen have been sentenced to death in Akwa Ibom State for killing a commercial motorcyclist otherwise called Okada rider in Uyo, the state capital. The convicted policemen are Inspector Moses Akpaete, Inspector Idoko Sampson, Corporal Enobong Udo and Corporal Godwin Nnanna, all attached to C Division.
This came as some irate youths at Zurmi town in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara State attacked the community police station and demanded that officers should hand over the three suspected bandits arrested by the Army to them. Also, youths protesting the death of two of their colleagues yesterday beat up the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) attached to Ilara-Mokin in Ifedore Local Government Area of Ondo State, Mr. Wole Ogodo. The four policemen were sentenced on Friday by the Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo.
The presiding judge, Justice Ifiok Ukana, found the policemen guilty of conspiracy in the murder of Mr. Felix Akpan of Ibiakpan in Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area of Akwa Ibmo State. The incident occurred on Abak Road by Federal Secretariat, Uyo on October 16, 2016 when the policemen on patrol fired at the motorcyclist, who refused to stop when they accosted him for operating at the prohibited area of the city. The killing caused public outrage leading to the arrest and prosecution of the policemen.
The convicts admitted that one of them fired at the motorcyclist because they were attacked by mob while attempting to arrest Akpan. But in his submission, Justice Ukana said there was no evidence that the policemen acted in self-defence as they were not attacked by the fleeing cyclist or any mob.
The judge noted that the decision of the policemen to flee from the scene of the incident after the shooting showed that they were united in their intention to kill Akpan. According to him, the law is clear on the penalty which awaits any person who commits or conspires to commit such heinous crime whether principal or accessory to the crime.
The judge prayed God to have mercy upon the souls of the convicted policemen. The Zamfara State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), SP Muhammad Shehu, told journalists in Gusau yesterday, that the police station was attacked on Saturday evening. Shehu, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the angry youths also burnt down a vehicle and some motorcycles at the station.
He said the three suspects were among the bandits who attacked villages in Mashema District of Zurmi Local Government Area on July 24. Shehu said when the news of the arrest of the suspects filtered into the town, some irate youths mobilised themselves to the police station.
The PPRO said the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Zurmi Local Government Area and other policemen at the police station escaped with the suspects through the back fence of the station. Shehu said normalcy had been restored, while the suspects had already been handed over to the state police command for further investigation.
The PPRO enjoined members of the public in the state to be lawabiding and avoid taking laws into their hands. Over 12,000 internally displaced from 18 communities in Zurmi Local Government Area are currently camped by the state government at some government facilities at Zurmi town. Meanwhile, residents of Ilara- Mokin in Ondo State yesterday protested the death of two persons on a commercial motorcycle popularly called Okada, who were crushed to death by a commercial bus on the Ilesa-Akure Road. Apart from the DPO, the protesters also attacked some police officers and men.
A witness said the deceased, whose identities were yet to be confirmed at press time, were on a motorcycle on the Ilesa-Akure Road when the 18-passenger Toyota bus crushed them to death. The witness said the accident sparked off a protest by the youth who set the bus ablaze and attacked policemen around. It was during the protest that Ogodo, who was the immediate past state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), was attacked and beaten while trying to calm the angry protesters. “The two men who were indigenes of the town were crushed to death by the bus that was travelling to Lagos and this infuriated the people of the town because they believed the driver of the bus was reckless.
“They immediately organised a protest and burnt down the bus and blocked the highway. They also attacked the security agents as the policemen were trying to stop them,” the witness added. The protest caused a gridlock on the road and it took the policemen and officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) several hours to clear the road. While many motorists were caught up in the gridlock, others took alternative routes to their destinations.
The PPRO, Mr. Femi Joseph, who confirmed the incident, said the protesters took the law into their hands but the men of the command still ensured that normalcy returned to the road. He said: “There was an accident which claimed two lives, but the people of the community were unruly as they burnt down the vehicle and as the DPO was trying to prevent them from burning the vehicle, they overpowered him and assaulted him. “However, we have begun our investigation and we will still arrest those that set the bus ablaze and those that beat the DPO because they have committed another offence.”