ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Aggrieved residents of Biogbolo-Epie community in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, have gone on the rampage over the alleged death of their son, Goodluck Izigwe, in a police custody.
The aggrieved protesters on Saturday were joined in the protest by youths from other communities in the area under the auspices of Oguan (Epie-Atissa) Youth Council.
The protesting residents blocked the ever-busy Mbiama-Yenagoa Road and the Isaac Boro Expressway in Yenagoa, the state capital, with canopies, woods and tyres.
The incident left many residents stranded and disrupted vehicular movement as commuters had to trek long distances to get to their destinations.
A resident of Biogbolo-Epie and chairman of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Epie-Atissa clan chapter, Peter Epem, accused the police of killing the 27-year-old Izigwe by torture.
He claimed the deceased was among eight youths of the community who were arrested by the personnel of Operation Puff Adder from the Bayelsa State Police Command.
Epem stated: “On Tuesday, policemen attached to the Operation Puff Adder stormed our community, Biogbolo-Epie, and arrested eight of our youths, including the youth president, and took them away. We don’t know why they were arrested.
“Out of torture, one of our sons, among those in detention, is dead. We the people of Epie-Atissa are demanding the release of the remaining youths in Puff Adder’s detention.
“The police have gone beyond professionalism in their conduct and they should be investigated. We want to know how and why Goodluck Izigwe died in police custody. Our mothers and fathers are also protesting. The police kept our youths in detention, torture them, and today one of them is dead.”
Also speaking, the President of Oguan (Epie-Atissa) Youth Council, Inatimi Timothy, said the victim was in good health when he was taken away alongside seven other youths by the police, adding that he was reportedly beaten to death while in detention.
Timothy said: “The youths of Epie-Atissa are aggrieved owing to the extra-judicial killing of Goodluck, a sound moral youth of Biogbolo community that was arrested in good health by Operation Puff Adder team, taken away in good health to their station and beaten to death like a goat or a fowl.
“We are not sure of the safety of those who are still in detention, and we demand their release if they are still alive.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Echeng E. Echeng, has ordered discreet investigation and autopsy to determine the cause of death of Izigwe’s death.
The State Police Command in a statement, titled, “Sudden and Unnatural Death of a Suspect in Custody”, issued by the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Asinim Butswat, claimed that the victim was apprehended in connection with an armed robbery incident.
The command said: “The deceased suspect was arrested in connection with the armed robbery incident that occurred on 21 September, 2021, at Biogbolo, Yenagoa, when hoodlums attacked police patrol team, fatally injured Inspector Ugbotor Sunday and carted away his riffle.
“Preliminary investigation reveals that Goodluck Oviekeme was the mastermind of the attack on the patrol team. He was arrested on 22 September, 2021 at about 0300 hours, while in police custody, the suspect was observed to be running high temperature and was rushed to the hospital were he eventually died.”
Echeng condoled with the family of the deceased and assured the general public that the outcome of the investigation would be made public.