Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kogi Police Open Fire on Protesting Youths, 2 Killed

Two youths were killed on Wednesday in Umoni community in Ofu Local Government Kogi State after policemen shot into a group of protesting youths.

The Punch identified the slain youths as Okaye Omodi and Zekeri Mohammed. According to the newspaper, the officers, who were attached to the Ugwolawo Police Division, fled their station after the shooting.

The youths were protesting the arrest and detention by officers, of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad the day before. One of those arrested was a retired police officer, Peter Adama.

Jeremiah Idege, a resident of the community claimed that the police raided the community after some Fulani herdsmen reported that the cattle were killed by members of the community.

He said the claim made by the herdsmen was not correct. According to him the herdsmen had actually invaded and destroyed farmlands in Umoni.

He said. “We have issues with the Fulani herdsmen and that has been on for as long as 15 years. They have been destroying our farmland with reckless abandon. As I speak with you, our community is wrecked.

“The little we have left was ravaged again by their cows recently and we reported the matter at the Ugwolawo Police Division. We were given four policemen to follow us to assess the level of damage done to our crops.

“Later, the police said we should come to a roundtable meeting with the herdsmen so they could resolve the case; but we refused. We just asked them to leave in peace. If we collect any money from them, they will say they have bought the lands and they will completely take over what we have left.”

Other residents claimed that the indiscriminate arrest by the police did not go down well with the members of the community who blocked roads and chanted solidarity songs in what they claimed was a peaceful protest.

The bodies of the slain youths were abandoned on the road before the Ata of Igala, Michael Idakwo, arrived at the scene and ordered that the victims’ families should take them away for burial.

A resident said, “We don’t know who to cry to now that the police, who are supposed to protect us, have turned against us. We don’t know any human rights organisation to turn to. Please help us; we are helpless.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, Kogi State Command, William Aya, confirmed the incident, adding that the state Commissioner of Police had visited the scene.

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