Listen to article
A pro-democracy and civil rights group who has identified itself as Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development (FENRAD), has lamented the murder of two police officers at Ariaria Market in Aba, Abia State.
The Eastern Updates that the guns belonging to the victims, who were on the convoy of a commissioner in Abia State, were also taken away by the assailants.
The group, in a statement by its Executive Director, Nelson Nwafor, also lamented alleged reprisal attack by the police, regretting that it was the first time such an incident occurred in that vicinity.
He said: ‘We condemned the killing of two policemen at Ariaria market on Tuesday, July 25. From the information available to the Foundation, including videos and clips so far analysed, the said policemen were part of the security details attached to the Commissioner for Investment, Abia State. The killings, FENRAD gathered, happened along the popular Old Express and Samek Junction in Ariaria market.
‘Sadly, this is not the first time in recent times security agents were losing their lives along Ariaria market. Part of our findings as a Foundation showed that policemen had been killed and their guns carted away allegedly by unknown gunmen at Faulk’s Road, Aba, within the same Ariaria market coordinates.
‘This is bad in its entirety and the Foundation is unsparing in its condemnation of these acts,’ the group said.
FENRAD added: ‘The Foundation commiserates with the bereaved, urging that due compensation be awarded the families of these slain policemen, while also calling for proper and thorough investigation into these killings.
‘Questions must be asked and answers provided. Why was the commissioner attacked? Who are the masterminds of this deadly attack? If they are still at large, how can they be arrested and prosecuted? These are questions begging for answers.
‘Having stated this, the Foundation considers as sad and regrettable the reprisal attacks allegedly carried out by some personnel of the Force, leading to panic among traders, residents and passers-by.
‘In the wee hours of Wednesday, July 26, gunshots released sporadically into the air, threw Umuode, Faulk’s Road, Okigwe Road and adjoining streets into unnecessary anxiety. People woke up to outbursts of gunfire in their neighbourhood and remained indoors for two days, in some instances.’
Further on the reprisal attacks, the group lamented: ‘Reports of policemen destroying vehicles (both cars and tricycles) and commandeering goods and properties are unwelcome and extremely inappropriate, especially when situated within the context of rules of engagement. Scaring away and stampeding of business owners and residents could escalate the situation further; this is to no one’s benefit.’
The group appreciated the timely intervention of the governor of Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, stressing: ‘Having read the state government’s statement on this development and really appreciative of the governor’s timeous intervention, following which calm is gradually returning to the town, the Foundation believes that the new government can go one better by helping to work out a new, healthy and robust police-community relations.
‘A multi-stakeholder dialogue is needed now to reset the policing standard in Aba. Resort to kinetic approach has never boosted civil-police relations nor enhanced mutual understanding, rather it has always had a lethal outcome.
‘Lastly, FENRAD commends the Governor for the timely visit to the market for assessment of the whole situation and calls on the Governor to look into this matter and find a lasting and amicable way of resolving it. Both the police, the public and the government can benefit from a meeting of minds,’ it added.
Recall that on Wednesday, July 26, a detachment of the police’ Rapid Response Squad (RRS) was seen at Brass Junction where they barricaded all access roads to Ariaria market.
Consequently, businesses and commercial activities were grounded in the past three days.