. Culprit officers already arrested, vehicle recovered – CP
Odahiekwu Ogunde, Yenagoa
Policemen on escort duty in a bizarre show of brutality have shot and severely injured four women, including a teenage girl and pastor’s wife at Tombia market in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
The 17-year-old female periwinkle seller, Alice Baine, and three other women were left in the pool of their blood by the patrol team, who were reportedly angry that the market was causing gridlock that delayed the escort van from passing through it.
An eyewitness, who identified herself simply as Joy, said the police team, six in number, came down from their vans and started shooting live bullets at the traders and pedestrians to leave the roadsides to make way for their vehicle to pass freely.
The witness, who said she was with her foster mother during the incident, said: “We went to Tombia market to buy some items.
“While we were walking down the Tombia bridge, I saw a policeman shouting at market women to clear the road for their vehicles to pass.
“Their van was parked along the Melford Okilo road by Tombia roundabout. Before we knew what was to happen next, the policeman started pointing his gun at the women, ordering them to move out of the way. Because the women hesitated to move out of their way, he started shooting.
“I thought I had been shot but I heard my stepmother screaming that she could not move her legs. It was at that point I realised that she had been shot in her leg.
“Some persons came to our rescue after the police van had left the scene, driving towards Amassoma but I was able to write the number of the van down.
“If they parade the policemen I can recognise them. All I want is justice for my foster mother. As we speak the hospital is already saying that if we don’t deposit money they would discharge my mother from the hospital.”
A pastor in one of the Christ Embassy Church branches in Yenagoa, Mr Onoja Majadu, whose wife was a victim, said he was somewhere to congratulate a friend whose wife gave birth to a baby girl when he heard the sad news.
Majadu said: “So I called my wife to go to Tombia market to get food items to prepare food for the woman who was just delivered of a baby. Not quite some minutes later, I got a call that my wife was shot by the police.
“At that point, my temperature increased immediately but I managed to ask where she was and I told that she had been rushed to a nearby hospital. In fact when I saw my wife I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was badly brutalised.
“As we speak, the bone between her ankle and knee is badly damaged. The hospital is asking me to provide N100,000 before they could commence major treatment on her leg.”
Also, Mr Kingdom Baine, father of the 17-year-old periwinkle seller, Alice, spoke amid tears: “I was in my house when her elder sister sent to Tombia market to sell periwinkle with her did not come back at the expected time and we got worried.
“So, about 7pm we began to get more disturbed that she had not arrived home from market. It was in the course of searching for her that we were told that she was shot on two legs by police.
“I then wondered what she must have gone wrong only for me to discover that she was going about her business when she was shot for no justifiable reason.
“The pathetic thing is that she is a secondary school student and with these injuries, I wonder if my daughter can still go back to school. So I want justice for my daughter so that my mind would be at rest.”
Also Mrs. Ebinipre Majadu, one of the victims, said about 6pm she went to the market to get some food items for the family.
She said she was buying lobsters from women selling fish when she was shot.
She stated: “I didn’t feel anything initially but when I tried to run, I realised that I couldn’t move one of my legs.
“It was at that point my daughter raised the alarm and bystanders came to my rescue and rushed me to the hospital.”
Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Mr Mike Okoli, confirmed the shooting by the policemen on escort duties.
He said the command received the report of the incident but that the patrol team was not from the Bayelsa State Command.
Okoli said: “We have the particulars of the vehicle as Terropol, NPF 8643C, white Hilux. Be informed that the vehicle and the policemen involved in this unprovoked attack on innocent women have been apprehended and now in my custody.
“I want to assure you that they are already facing severe disciplinary measures, the outcome of which you will be informed. I specially thank those who made the particulars of the vehicle readily available.”