By Special Correspondent.
One Ebere Chibuike, popularly known as Wazzi, a trader at Timber and Allied Industrial Market, Naze, in Owerri, has been killed by stray bullet from yet to be identified security operatives.
The incident which happened Monday morning sent shockwaves through the market while the traders have cried out to the government, protesting the killing and demanding for justice.
The deceased, an indigene of Onicha in Ezinihitte Mbaise council area of the state, who owned a shop at the market, Society Mirror gathered was hit by the stray bullet at his shop while attending to customer.
The incident according to eyewitnesses resulted from an attempt by the security operatives to arrest some traders in the market over undisclosed reason but were resisted by their colleagues in the market.
It was further gathered that it was in attempt to scare the people away and possibly avoid being lynched by the mob that the said security personnel started shooting sporadically in the air. Unfortunately, one of bullets from shooting landed on the chest of the victim leading to his instant death.
An eyewitness, who spoke on basis anonymity while recounting the incident, said, “We were at our various shops trading this morning when some policemen came to make an arrest. We were all pleading for him to be set free, and the next thing we heard was a gunshot. We found that the trader had been shot on the spot, and we took him to about two hospitals where he was confirmed dead.”
Also, a man said to be the victim’s uncle, who spoke with journalists, expressed his disbelief over the incident and called for justice in the wake of his nephew’s death.
He said, “It is not even up to an hour since I heard about this development when I returned home from work. I quickly rushed down to the scene. This is a marketplace, and I don’t understand all this harassment.”
Also reacting, Chief Ezejiofor Elias, the President of the Market said “Just this afternoon, I got a call that the police shot one of our members. I inquired about what led to his death, and they told me nothing, that the police frequently come around to harass people.
“Surprisingly, late Ebere was at his shop selling his goods. If the deceased had done something wrong, they would have met with the market leaders. We were surprised that the police came and shot Ebere. We don’t want to take the law into our hands, and we call for justice. We are not happy with what is happening.”
“The tragic shooting has left the Timber and Allied Industrial Market traders devastated, mourning the loss of a fellow trader popularly known as Wazzi.” he added.
Meanwhile both the Police Command and the heads of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA who were alleged to either being involved in the shooting have separately denied involvement in the killing of the trader.
When contacted, the spokesman of Imo NDLEA, Shehu Lamuwa said their men were no where close to the scene of the incident, insisting that such arrest attempt was documented in the itinerary of the command.
In the same vein, the State Police spokesman, ASP Henry Okoye responded, “wait for me to verify who shot the man. But information I have gathered so far indicates it’s not the Police that shot him.
“More so, the DPO in charge of the area has since been mobilized to the scene for on-the-spot analysis and discreet investigation. However, the Command is yet to receive official report from him. Once I receive it, I’ll relay accordingly pls.”