One of the youths in Ozoro, Isoko North Delta state, who was protesting police extortion, brutality and intimidation of youths in the community was, on Monday, August 3, 2020, felled by yet to be identified gunman.
Although residents of the area and human rights groups say the youth was killed by a trigger happy police officer, who was mobilised to the scene to quell the protesting youths, police authorities have denied the claim that the youth was felled by the bullet of a police officer.
Prince Kehinde Taiga, national vice president of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) is vehemently accusing members of the Nigeria police as being too brutish and uncivilised in their dealing with youths, especially youths seen driving some cars in the state,particularly officers in South and Delta central area of the state.
He told Emerald News that members of the police have reportedly harassed and intimidated youths to the extent of extorting hundreds of thousands of Naira from them, branding them as yahoo boys and coercing them to surrender all the money they have and those who do not have must at the moment of encounter, must make contacts to get money available to the officers.
He alleged that most of the police officers do not wear the uniform in full but go with jacket bearing police, ostensibly to avoid their names being identified by members of the public or by the youths who are their perennial victims.
He told Emerald News: “They are after those boys driving big cars. As soon as they see them, they will pick them and drive them to a quiet place to extort money from them. If the person has no money on him, he will be made to call people to send money to him. They will now drive him to a far place, bring their POS to withdraw the money in their car.
“N500,000 was once extorted from a pastor’s son in this form in Ughelli area. The commissioner of police is not helping the system. The policemen abducted this pastor’s son, threatened to kill him if he does not pay them. They were not wearing uniform.”
Prince Taiga, who has been on the neck of the Nigeria police in the state over the issues of extortion, intimidation, harassment, brutality for no just cause, said what happened at Ozoro, the headquarters of Isoko North was a protest organised by some youths against police harassment and extortion in the area.
He said some youths were arrested by the police, claiming they were yahoo boys, adding that the protest was against the unwelcoming action of the police. He told Emerald News that the Divisional Police Officer in Ozoro told his secretary that the protest was an SOS protest not against the police. He added that the DPO branded the youths protesting as yahoo boys.
He said if the police authority is disagreeing that the deceased youths was not killed by police officer, the police should provide who killed the youth. For him, the police authority is being economical with the truth.
Despite the police denial, there are heavy allegations that the deceased was allegedly shot by a yet-to-be identified policeman attached to Ozoro Police Division in Isoko North local government area of Delta state.
Community sources say the late youth was among the youths who were protesting alleged police intimidation and harassment in the community. The incident was said to have happened at about 9am on Monday, August 3, 2020.
The killing resulted in a riot where youths attempted burning the police station, NIGER DELTA TODAY reports. The riot disrupted the peace in the polytechnic town. The protesters were also alleged to have set motorcycles on fire after the alleged killings.
More security operatives have been drafted to the community to quell the rising tension.
The protesters during the protest had accused security personnel especially the police of alleged brutality and illegal arrest as well as using POS to extorting money from suspects.
But police public relations officer in the state, Onome Onovwakpoyeya, denied all the allegations against the police, when called for reaction from Emerald News.
She said for now investigation is till ongoing. “We don’t know the person that shot the youth. We don’t want to deny or accept until investigation is completed. I watched the video that is going viral, there was no police man there. If it were a policeman that shot him, the mob around would have lynched him to death.”