The residents of Konshisha area of the Aliade-Awajir Road in Benue State, were in pandemonium after a police inspector allegedly shot dead a motorcycle (Okada) rider, identified as Gabriel Saa.
According to Punch Metro, the victim was shot dead after interfering in a discussion between the police inspector and another motorcycle rider on the road.
The inspector was allegedly demanding a N50 bribe from the motorcycle rider when the victim interjected, leading to a heated argument.
Speaking to a correspondent, an eyewitness and resident of the area who did not want to be identified said;
“The policeman shot the man and he died on the spot. Angry youths in the community and some motorcycle riders mobilised to the Awajir Police Station and set it on fire. They blocked the road and sang solidarity songs. Some policemen in the area were also attacked and injured during the incident.”
Moses Iyamu, who is the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, however denied that the victim was shot dead during an argument over a bribe, saying that a toll collector had wanted to snatch the rifle of the police inspector when there was an accidental discharge, which hit Saa who was far from the scene of the incident.
He said, “The incident happened during the village’s market day on Monday around 4pm. There was a group of men who mounted a roadblock to collect tolls from traders bringing in their goods. A patrol team drove in at that time and there was an altercation between the team and one of the men.
“While they were about resolving the issue, somebody made an attempt to snatch the rifle of one of the policemen. In fact, they had dispossessed a sergeant of his rifle and were about doing the same for the inspector when there was an accidental discharge.
“Unfortunately, the person the bullet hit was not around the scene of the incident; he was far away. The okada riders (motorcyclists) mobilised and went on the rampage. They burnt down the police outpost in that area and blocked the road. Our men succeeded in driving them away.”
Iyamu said a Deputy Commissioner of Police had visited the community to discuss with community leaders, adding that the matter had been resolved and the sergeant’s rifle recovered.