There was rising tension on Wednesday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital over the indiscriminate shooting of a 17-year-old girl, a pastor’s wife and a trader by a team of policemen on patrol along the popular Tombia market area of the state, causing them fatal injuries in the legs and some parts of their body.
The policemen, according to eyewitnesses, opened fire on roadside market women over alleged cause of traffic gridlock that delayed their escort van from passing through the area. The Tombia roundabout is home to an ever busy market and motor parks is famous for causing gridlocks that last for several hours.
Our correspondent gathered that the accused policemen, numbering six, came down from their van and started shooting at the traders and pedestrians to leave road sides in order to make way for vehicle to pass freely.
Already, the quick visit of the state commissioner of police, Mike Okoli to the scene of the shooting and arrest of the trigger happy police team has, however, calmed frayed nerves as some youths were seen chanting “#End Police Brutality”.
CP Mike Okoli confirmed that the policemen involved in the indiscriminate shooting have been apprehended and detained at the state police headquarters. He said we have the particulars of the vehicle as Terropol, NPF 8643C, White Hilux. Be informed that the vehicle and the policemen involved in this unprovoked attack on innocent women have been apprehended and now in my custody”.
“I want to assure you that they are already facing severe disciplinary measures the outcome of which you’ll be informed. I thank you for cooperation and concern especially those who made the particulars of the vehicle readily available.”
The spokesman of the police command, SP Asinim Butswat, aslo confirmed that the unfortunate incident occurred at the popular Tombia-Etegwe roundabout on Tuesday night at about 7.45pm when the patrol team was stuck in a traffic gridlock and one of the police officers in a bid to clear the gridlock accidentally fired a shot, the bullet injured three women.
The victims of the indiscriminate shooting were identified as Alice Azaghene ‘f’ 17 years, one Mrs Ebinipiri J. Onojamadu ‘f’ 46 years, and one Madufuro Blessing ‘f’ 32 years,” All have been taken to the Glory land Hospital, Yenagoa where they are responding to treatment”.
Families of the victims expressed concern over the incident saying instead of policemen learning from the recent #Endsars protest nationwide, they are still engaged in misconducts.
Madam Joy Robert, who was with her foster mother when the incident occurred told newsmen, that “The police van was packed along the Melford Okilo road by Tombia roundabout. Before we know what was happening, the policeman started pointing his gun at the women, ordering them to move out of the way. Because the women hesitated to move out of their way, he started shooting the ground”.
“I thought I had been shot but I heard my mom screaming that she could not move her legs. It was at that point I realized that she had been shot on her leg. So some persons came to our rescue after the police van had left the scene, driving towards Amossoma but I was able to write the number of the van down”.
She also offered to participate in a parade to identify the accused policemen involved, “If they line up the policemen, I could identify them. All I want is justice for my foster mother. As we speak, the hospital is already saying that if we don’t pay advance fee, they would discharge my mother from the hospital.”
Also speaking, Mr. Onoja Majadu, a coordinator with the Christ Embassy churches in Yenagoa, whose wife was a victim, said “i was somewhere yesterday to congratulate a friend whose wife gave birth to a baby girl. So I called my wife to go to Tombia market to get food items to prepare food for the woman who was just delivered of a baby. Not quite some minutes later, I got a call that my wife was shot by police”.
“At that point my temperature increased immediately but I managed to ask where she was and was told that she had been rushed to a nearby hospital. In fact when I saw my wife I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was badly brutalized.
“As we speak, the bone between her ankle and knee is badly damaged. The hospital is asking me to provide N100,000 before they would commence major treatment on her leg.”
Mr. Kingdom Baine, father of the 17 year old victim, Alice Baine said “I was in my house yesterday when her elder sister who is also my daughter sent to Tombia market to sell periwinkle. So about 7pm we began to get worried that she had not arrived home from market so in the course of searching for her that we were told that she was shot on two legs by police.
“I then wondered what she must have done wrong. Only for me to discover that she was going about her business when she was shot for no justifiable reason. The worse thing about it is that she is a secondary school student and with these injuries, I wonder if my daughter can still go back to school. So I want justice for my daughter so my mind would rest.”
Mrs. Ebinipre Majadu, one of the victims, said “about 6pm I was in the market to get some food items. So when I got to where those women sell fish, I was buying lobster when I heard gunshots. I didn’t feel anything initially but when I tried to run, I realized that I couldn’t move one of my legs. It was at that point my daughter raised alarm and bystanders came to my rescue and rushed me to the hospital.”
The doctor attending to the victims, Dr. Valentine Obiora, explained that “so far we have cleaned the wounds for x-ray this morning to know the extent of the bone involvement and possibly carry out a surgery or if she would need external fixation.
“The patients are responding to treatment. The first victim bilaterally has an avultion injury on one leg and a bruise on the other leg. For the second victim, hers was quit extensive but the x-ray would tell us the extent of bone involvement. So hopefully, with the x-ray and proper surgery she could walk again.”