There was pandemonium on the Aliade-Awajir Road, in the Konshisha area of Benue State, after a police inspector allegedly shot dead a motorcycle rider, identified as Gabriel Saa.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the victim was shot dead after interfering in a discussion between the police inspector and another motorcycle rider on the road.
The inspector was allegedly demanding a N50 bribe from the motorcycle rider when the victim interjected, leading to a heated argument.
“The policeman shot the man and he died on the spot. Angry youths in the community and some motorcycle riders mobilised to the Awajir Police Station and set it on fire. They blocked the road and sang solidarity songs. Some policemen in the area were also attacked and injured during the incident,” a resident, who did not want to be identified, said.
But the Benue State Police Public Relations Officer, Moses Iyamu, denied that the victim was shot dead during an argument over a bribe.
Iyamu said a toll collector had wanted to snatch the rifle of the police inspector when there was an accidental discharge, which hit Saa who was far from the scene of the incident.
He said, “The incident happened during the village’s market day on Monday around 4pm. There was a group of men who mounted a roadblock to collect tolls from traders bringing in their goods. A patrol team drove in at that time and there was an altercation between the team and one of the men.
“While they were about resolving the issue, somebody made an attempt to snatch the rifle of one of the policemen. In fact, they had dispossessed a sergeant of his rifle and were about doing the same for the inspector when there was an accidental discharge.
“Unfortunately, the person the bullet hit was not around the scene of the incident; he was far away.
“The okada riders (motorcyclists) mobilised and went on the rampage. They burnt down the police outpost in that area and blocked the road. Our men succeeded in driving them away.”
Iyamu said a Deputy Commissioner of Police had visited the community to discuss with community leaders, adding that the matter had been resolved and the sergeant’s rifle recovered.