The gruesome murder of an 18-year-old boy, Awuzie Duru by a trigger happy police officer, has brought palpable tension to Njaba local government area, Imo State.
The incident happened on Sunday, December 1, inside the premises of a new generation bank branch at Umuaka. According to an eyewitness, the policeman shot the boy for retaliating a slap from him. As at the time of filing this report, the identity of the Policeman is yet to be ascertained.
Awuzie (aka Aboy), who hailed from Isiozi Aka in the town, had gone to the bank to withdraw money from the bank’s ATM gallery when the incident occurred.
Speaking with The Nation, one of the villagers, who witnessed the killing, said that when Awuzie joined the ATM line, other persons joined the queue behind him.
“They were in the queue when his (Awuzie’s) phone rang; he stepped out of the line to answer the call. When he came back, the other person behind him took his position in the queue and tried to stop him from joining the queue again.
“This action was happening in the presence of this killer policeman and caused heated exchange of words between Awuzie and the guy that took his position in the queue while the policeman was there watching.
“The exchange of words between the two degenerated to fighting and in the process, the policeman who has been watching the scene came and started scolding Awuzie, who was trying to maintain his position after answering his call.
“The boy told him, ‘you were here watching while we were exchanging words. Why scolding me now, it has led to fighting?’ The policeman slapped him, and the boy retaliated. In the process, the policeman cocked his gun and shot the boy, who died instantly.”
The situation has stirred up tension in the town as the youths in the area are said to be planning an attack on the police station.
Sources said that the youths had mobilised to attack the police station when some elders appealed to them to allow the police hierarchy to handle the matter.
“I can tell you that the boys were not happy with the matter is that policeman killed the boy over an altercation. So, they had mobilised to burn down the station to show their anger and loss.
“But, some of us had to intervene because this kind of thing happened here before about 15 years ago when some policemen caused the death of some people in Umuaka here and our youths burned down the police station. So we don’t want this kind of thing to happen anymore.
“Some of them are still planning to launch an attack, but we’re still appealing to them.”
Confirming the incident, the state police commissioner, Rabiu Ladodo, said the command was doing everything possible to contain any further crisis that might arise from the incident.
While disclosing that the killer policeman had been arrested, he said appropriate punishment would be meted out to him if he was found guilty.
“Yes, I’m aware that the youths mobilised to the police station, but I told my men that we must handle the matter community policing and professionally too. That’s why when the villagers came, we allowed them to express their grievance, and we addressed the matter. We were very professional in handling the matter”.