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Protest Rages in Port Harcourt Over Policeman’s Killing of Bus Driver

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Four days af­ter the Inspec­tor General of Police, Solo­mon Arase, came to Rivers State , and apologised to mem­bers of the pub­lic over the miscon­duct of some of his men and officers, a po­lice Sergeant identified as James Imhalu has killed a commercial bus driver, David Legbaraa, 37, in Port Harcourt for refusing to part with the sum of N100 bribe.
The IGP had on Tues­day, August 4, 2015 visited the Rivers State Police Com­mand as part of his familiari­sation tour of Police forma­tions in the country, where he also commissioned 64 patrol vehicles donated to the police and other security agencies in the state by governor Nye­som Wike. The trigger-happy Police Sergeant killed the commercial bus driver Fri­day afternoon at Whimpy junction on Ikwerre Road, Port Harcourt.
The incident sparked off spontaneous pro­tests from drivers, sympathiz­ers and members of the pub­lic, who saw the action of the policeman as unjustifiable.
Friday’s riot took many Port Harcourt residents un­awares, as the spontaneous reaction started when workers were returning home. Con­sequently, many commuters had difficulties getting to their destinations, as protesting commercial vehicle operators withdrew their services, and smashed vehicles of members who failed to comply.
The aggrieved drivers and youths went on rampage, searching for policemen in the city for their own pound of flesh. They destroyed po­lice stands mounted at stra­tegic spots for traffic Ward­ers along Ikwerre Road, the second longest street in Port Harcourt. Policemen, who were usually seen at the Rumuokoro, Rumuokwuta Round About, Rumuigbo, Agip junction, Emenike junction and those who usu­ally stay close to the Mile 2 Divisional Police headquar­ters, disappeared in a jiffy to avoid the mob’s action.
Some of the policemen were seen hurriedly removing their uniforms and fleeing to avoid the wrath of the enraged drivers and youths, who were armed with dangerous weap­ons and making bonfires.
In continuation of their protest, the rioters again took to the streets yesterday, forc­ing out passengers who were already inside vehicles and dealing ruthlessly with the erring drivers. Private car owners were also not spared, forcing some of them to aban­don their vehicles and fleeing for safety, while the unlucky ones got their cars damaged.
In the ensuing crisis, many commuters were forced to trek long distances. An eyewitness, who simply gave his name as Eke, described the situation as ‘harrowing’.
It took the intervention of the policemen and Depart­ment of State Services (DSS) to restore order. The operatives forced people to raise their two hands, as they trekked to their destinations.
Reacting to the killing, the Rivers State Police Com­missioner, Mr. Chris Ezike, said the deceased was killed, “in clearly unacceptable and avoidable circumstance”.
“The Policeman was promptly disarmed, arrested and detained, while I ordered full scale investigation into the circumstances and rami­fications of this painful inci­dent. I sympathize and con­dole with the family of the deceased in the loss of their loved one. I condemn in un­mistakable terms the action of the Policeman as prelimi­nary facts revealed his action was clearly avoidable,” he declared.
The CP disclosed that he had briefed the Inspector-Gen­eral of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, adding that the IGP had ordered that the police officer concerned should be charged to court on conclusion of in­vestigation.
He appealed for calm pend­ing the outcome of the investi­gation. “We shall ensure that justice is done to this matter. We shall also continue to monitor this situation and put in place adequate security to ensure a safe, secure and bet­ter Port Harcourt City,” Ezike assured.
Similarly, Governor Nye­som Ezenwo Wike has as­sured the people that the killer Police officer would be brought to justice. Address­ing thousands of protesters at Mile 4 Market Junction yes­terday, Wike said the days of impunity were over.
The governor, who was on scheduled in­spection tour of projects when he ran into the protesters said: “I have just placed a call to the Commissioner of Po­lice, and I am assuring you that the policeman, who killed this unarmed citizen will face justice.”
He, therefore, appealed to the protesters to vacate the roads and allow normalcy to return to the city, assur­ing that the unarmed driv­er, killed by the police Ser­geant would not die in vain.

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