The Abia command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), has confirmed Wednesday’s alleged shooting to death of a motorist by its operative, Richard Eze, at the Umuekaa Junction, near Aba.
The state Commandant of the corps, Mr Nnamdi Nwannukwu, confirmed the incident in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia.
Nwannukwu stated that the incident occurred around 7 a.m at a checkpoint mounted by a team of NSCDC operatives enforcing the lockdown at the junction on the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.
He said that the command had commenced full scale investigation into the incident and promised that the outcome would be made public.
It was learnt that the deceased, identified as Amobi Igwe, an indigene of Ishiagu in Ebonyi, was reportedly driving a Volkswagen RS Spacewagon, when the incident happened.
He was alleged to have outmanoeuvred men of the Federal Road Saftey Corps, who were also enforcing the lockdown on the expressway, close to the NSCDC checkpoint.
According to eyewitness account, after escaping from the FRSC, the deceased also ran into the NSCDC checkpoint, where attempts to flag him down to ascertain why he was on the road during the lockdown reportedly failed.
The statement alleged that the deceased rebuffed the attempts and “sped off dangerously, skidded over the barricade and brushed off the NSCDC operatives with his car”, while reportedly trying to evade arrest.
“The action of the driver raised suspicion among the NSCDC operatives that he could be a criminal attempting to beat security.
“The unfortunate development prompted one of the operatives at the checkpoint, SIC Eke Richard, to fire a shot, targeting the tyres.
“Unfortunately, the bullet strayed and hit him, leaving him wounded,” the statement added.
He was said to have been rushed to a hospital in the area, where he was confirmed dead.
Nwannukwu debunked “the rumour that the deceased was shot, while conveying foodstuffs.”
He stated, “Preliminary investigation showed that there was no foodstuff in the vehicle at the time the incident occurred.”
He said that the command was making frantic efforts to establish the full identity of the deceased.
He appealed to the relations of the deceased and members of the public to remain calm and desist from taking the law into their hands.
Nwannukwu gave an assurance that any member of the corps found to have violated the rules on the use of firearms would not be spared.
He reminded residents that the state government’s lockdown order was still in force and admonished them to remain at home.
“Those who are on essential service should endeavour to properly identify themselves to security operatives enforcing the lockdown,” he stated.
The statement further stated that the suspect had been arrested and kept in police custody, while the remains of the deceased had been deposited at the morgue.
NAN reports that the state government introduced the lockdown on April 1 as part of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic into Abia.