A 20-year-old apprentice, Chidozie Okafor, was on Monday shot dead on St. Micheal’s Road, Aba, Abia State, as military men moved in to check a protest by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
An eye-witness, who identified himself simply as Okechukwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Chidozie was returning to the shop where he was learning a trade after having his lunch at a food kiosk on St. Michael’s road by York when tragedy struck.
According to him, the military men shot at IPOB members who made bonfires on the road, obstructing traffic and telling people to close their shops.
He said that Chidozie, a native of Omuohu in Eziagu Local Government Area of Enugu state, was the only son of his parents.
The eye-witness further said that the victim came to Aba in 2015 to learn trade in electronic appliances, empty discs and cassettes and was until his death, an apprentice at a shop on St. Michael’s Road neighbourhood.
NAN reports that another victim, fondly called Taata, who was hit on the belly, died while being rushed to the Abia State University Teaching Hospital after the New Era Hospital had rejected him.
Another eye-witness who spoke to NAN on condition of anonymity, said that the military men began shooting at the protesters after they had seized two guns from the military men.
He also said that the protesters demolished two new traffic warden’s stands along Asa road during the protest.
Meanwhile, the Abia State Police Commissioner, Mr Habila Joshack, said that he was not aware of the deaths.
Joshack said that he was not sure that his men used live bullets as they had been instructed to manage the protests in such a manner that lives and property would be protected.
He warned that protesters in Abia should know that the ban on public protests had not been lifted, hence no one was allowed to threaten the lives of others or put them in fear.
The commissioner said that the act of setting bonfires on the road to obstruct traffic was an act of recklessness and lawlessness which must be stopped, to ensure peace.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Lt.-Col. Sidi Umar, the Commanding Officer, 44 Battalion, Asa, who is in charge of Aba metropolis, told NAN that he would investigate the matter to ascertain the veracity of the claim that deaths were recorded.
However, Umar said that his men arrested some protesters who had been handed over to the police for further action.