It was a black Independence Day for residents of Ndiegoro area of Aba as Police officers allegedly razed their homes over the death of their colleague.
Unidentified gunmen had at the weekend attacked a police patrol team, killing a policeman and a civilian driver of the team while others were injured. It was gathered that several buildings at Okojombo, Anaba, Degema and Umuosi streets at the Ndiegoro axis were set ablaze by policemen believed to be from the Ndiegoro Division in retaliation for the killing of their colleague.
Sources at the Ndiegoro area told news men that the problem that led to the shooting incident, which claimed the lives of the policeman and a civilian driver came as a result of an alleged disagreement between a drug cartel and some police officers who usually visit the area to ‘collect’ their share.
The residents whose properties and means of livelihoods were destroyed were in tears, lamenting their fate. Mr Nnamdi Nkwachukwu who spoke to Vanguard said he managed to escape with his wife and three children before the police officers set their house ablaze without minding if people were in. “What happened here has no business with us that live here.
Every evening when people are returning from the market, they usually come to Okojombo junction by Degema extorting people. “On Friday, they were doing the same thing around 6:15 pm when some group of boys from nowhere confronted them. It started with a fight between one of the boys and the police officers. “Police began shooting but the boys overpowered the officers and took their guns. The one that died was popularly known as Alhaji and it’s like he sustained an injury during that fight and later died at Umuosi Street a few metres away from the scene of the fight. “The next day, police officers started arresting people. After that, they started burning buildings.”
A victim, Mrs Okpara Adaku, a resident of Anaba Street said: “I don’t know what we did to those policemen. We were not the ones that killed their colleagues. If police can burn, injure and loot peoples’ shops as they did in this area, then Nigeria is in trouble. “Anaba Street here is even safer, go to Okojombo and see how they ransacked homes, shops stealing bags of rice, plasma TV, generator sets, handsets, weavons, cartons of beer and clothes. “Ibadan Streets and even Onyebuchi are now living in fear as no one knows the next building the police will burn. “The Police should rather fish out the real culprits.
How many buildings will the police continue to burn? 10 persons were arrested in our compound and police took N100,000 from them. Ikechi Anyianuka, a victim in Degema Street said that the police have made him homeless and jobless as his workshop and home which is inside the same building at Okojombo was burnt without a pin recovered. “I’m homeless and jobless, no thanks to the police. I don’t know what to do now. I lost all my properties because the boys that killed the police officer burnt the minibus used by the police not too far from my resident. “Just check the distance of Uzomkpa to where we are and tell me if this is not a calculated attempt by police to make some persons homeless. “They entered my friend’s shop and looted every valuable thing there and still got some of his boys arrested. The government should save us.”
Contacted, Abia State Police Commissioner, Ene Okon, denied that policemen were behind the razed houses. In his words, “Police have not burnt any house. Where is the policeman? The ones that were caught in army uniforms who were they? They can go back and burn whatever they want. “I don’t know of any police and I’m the head of police in Aba and I’m saying that police have not burnt any house. Anybody that has hand in the murder of the policeman will face the law. “We didn’t release anybody not to talk about collecting money. After killing a police officer and collecting AK47 with forty rounds they come to you people to whip up sentiment. We are looking for those arms now. “That community should bury its head in shame. They’re harbouring criminals and now they’re accusing police of coming to collect money. “Even if the police came there to collect money does that warrant killing them? The group that did this, where are they from? Is it not from the same community? The people burnt the buildings to cover their tracks.”