How Police, Motorist Brawl Left Four Dead, Bank Burnt In Abuja
FROM ABOSEDE MUSARI, ABUJA
AN early morning brawl in Mpape, a satellite town close to Maitama in Abuja, led to the death of about four people. Eyewitnesses claimed that the victims include a taxi driver and three of his passengers, who were said to be on their way to work.
The incident was said to have occurred at about 7:30 am on Monday as a taxi driver (names unknown), made to pick a passenger at the Berger Junction end of Mpape Road, in front of Zenith Bank. Eyewitnesses, Matthew Shedrach, Oladeji Ayodele and Victoria, who spoke to journalists, said that a mobile policeman attached to the bank had made to hold down the driver, but because he tried to escape, the policeman opened fire on him.
According to them, there was a mob as a result of the incident and the mob tried to hold down the policeman when his colleague, who must have thought they would lynch him, began to open fire on the unfortunate vehicle in order to scare away the mob.
As a result, three more people were said to have died but the Commissioner of Police for FCT, Haruna John, denied, saying there was only one dead person. However, The Guardian's check on the vehicle marked XA 783 SRP, and also marked 12-533 in Abuja taxi colour, showed a pool of blood on the driver's seat.
The mob, which became angrier at the conduct of the policemen, took into the bank's premises, setting the building on fire, including all vehicles within the premises. The staff of the bank were said to have hidden in the strong room for safety before the arrival of mobile policemen, who came in two armored tanks. They too, were overpowered by the mob.
The situation was, however, brought under control with the deployment of soldiers to the scene. When The Guardian visited, large crowd gathered on the road, while armed soldiers and policemen were everywhere to ensure order.
Commuters were stranded, because there was no vehicle to convey them to their destinations. Other agencies such as Civil Defence, Fire Service, State Security Service and FCT Emergency Medical Service, were also on ground. An officer from the medical service, told reporters that the victims were taken to Asokoro District Hospital by the FCT Fire Service.
Chairman of the hospital, Dr. Bello, however informed that only the corpse of one woman was brought and had been taken to the morgue. He insisted that no other casualty was brought to the hospital.
Earlier, while addressing journalists, FCT Commissioner of Police, John Haruna, said there was only one dead person. He added that though the policeman in question had been detained, it was a case of accidental discharge. According to him, the mob, were merely criminals, who wanted to take advantage of the situation to loot the bank.
"Today would have been a very quiet day. What happened from the report we gathered is that the taxi stopped to pick or drop a passenger and one of the Mopols asked him to leave the premises. Somehow, his hand went to the trigger, the gun ought not to have been corked. Anyway, a bullet was discharged, which killed a lady, who was a passenger in the vehicle.
"Before anything could be done by other policemen and the bank management, the bank had been besieged and that was when the DPO and other officers on ground came. The policeman in this case is however, in custody."
Continuing, the police commissioner said: "Look at these people, are they normal human beings? This is a settlement of mechanics, some of them are criminals chased from Abuja. Look at the shanties they built here. Most of the criminals in Abuja end up here. Some of the kidnappers we arrested in FCT were arrested here.
"There are lots of criminals here waiting for opportunities like this to loot. Luckily, the strong room is intact. Unfortunately, vehicles have been vandalized."
Haruna noted that accidents happen and when such occur, people should not take laws into their hands. "A policeman can use his fire arms when his life is threatened and he has no other means of protecting himself, or when the life of another person is endangered and the policeman could not use any other means to curtail the situation, or when there is an insurrection, where several people are riotously assembled and having been duly warned to disperse, the assembly remains, conducting themselves in a manner that will cause injury to persons and properties.
"A policeman can use his fire arms to arrest a felon, who has taken to flight or who has been convicted for a serious crime and has escaped from custody and the policeman on duty has no other means of curtailing him. Outside these conditions, any other act by any policeman that causes the death of any person is not justifiable," he said.
Haruna added that it is the policy of the Nigeria Police Force not to condone attack on the citizenry in any manner. "We have had cases of accidental discharge, where policemen killed themselves or their colleagues, not to talk of innocent Nigerians. Any policeman that is permitted to bear firearms must have been trained, but among 12 disciples, there must be a Judas."
Source: Leadership, 6th February 2011.
Mixed reactions trail first rain in FCT
Gwagwalada (FCT) – Some residents of Gwagwalada in the FCT on Saturday expressed mixed feelings over the territory's first rain recorded on Friday night.
Some of the residents, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the downpour, which lasted for about two hours, was unusual and was likely to herald a hot weather in the territory.
Mr Samuel Lanto, a resident and farmer in the area, said the rain might not be of importance to farmers because "we cannot start planting with it".
"The rain was not expected, and even if it was, it was not expected to be heavy.
"In the past, the first rain, which is usually preceded by heavy storm, brings heat," he said
Mr Iyke Husseini, another resident, noted that FCT had not recorded any rain in February in the past six years.
He, however, said that the first rain might not herald a period of heat as widely expected.
"My happiness over the rain was that it has made the environment to be very cool and I must tell you that I enjoyed my sleep very well last night," he said.
Miss Helen Kalu, another resident, who said the rain came when it was least expected, called for greater commitment to environmental sanitation in the Gwagwalada Area Council.
"Although the rain was heavy, what we have seen in major streets in Gwagwalada is that the drains are blocked," she said.
Kalu, therefore, urged the area council to ensure that the drainage system was put in proper shape before the rainy season proper. (NAN)
Source: Vanguard, 6th February 2011.
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