By Mercy Hill
Scene at a section of the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway by Old Road, where Enugwu-Ukwu youths barricaded to protest the killing of their kinsman
Nimo and Enugwu-Ukwu Communities in Njikoka LGA of Anambra, last Thursday, boiled as restive youths from Enugwu-Ukwu Community set up bonfires and blocked the Enugu-Onitsha Old Road along the Enugwu-Ukwu axis to protest the death of a 22-year old boy in the hands of the police the previous night.
The deceased, Mr Anthony Okafor, was said to have been run over by a vehicle while being chased by the police from Nimo Police Division, a few minutes into the dusk to dawn curfew imposed nation-wide by the Federal Government. The boy was said to be the only son of his parents.
Reports had it that Mr Okafor met his death while returning from work and was confronted by policemen who were enforcing the curfew.
Fides learnt that one of the policemen that chased him is regarded as a menace by the Nimo Community where the division is situated. According to a top source in the town, requests had been made several times to the police to redeploy the officer and another one viewed as troublesome and acting with impunity.
When news emerged that it was the same officer that was involved in the circumstances surrounding the death of the boy, some people in the community expressed little surprise.
Irked by the circumstances leading to the boy’s death, youths from Enugwu-Ukwu where the boy hailed from, came out in their hundreds to protest his death. Fides learnt that they had mobilized to storm the Police Division in Nimo and burn it, but were repelled by hordes of policemen who were equally mobilized to avert what could have been a major catastrophe.
Mr Okafor, was said to have died around 8:15 Pm on Wednesday, 20 May.
Youths numbering over 300 blocked the Enugwu-Ukwu axis of Old Enugu–Onitsha Expressway as they bemoaned the death of one of their own.
The protesters had crippled commercial and economic activities in the area, forcing motorists to take alternative routes.
This went on till they were addressed by the traditional ruler of the community, Igwe Ralph Ekpe.
A visibly saddened Igwe Ekpe described the act as unthoughtful. He blamed security operatives for failing to live up to their primary obligation of securing the lives of citizens. He said the deceased was returning from work before he ran into the police operatives who chased him to his untimely death.
The Enugwu-Ukwu monarch said the Youths of the community were known for peaceful co-existence and love but decided to register their dismay over the constant killing of people in the area by those who he said should be protecting them.
He however urged the youths of the community to be consoled as, according to him, government was fully aware and would investigate the situation to ensure that justice was carried out.
All efforts to get the reaction of the State Police image maker proved abortive as at the time but Fides later learnt that he responded on certain social media platforms in which he attributed the boy’s death to an accident.
According to him, the boy was crossing the road without looking when he was hit by a vehicle, a claim which many people had described as an outright lie.