A human rights activist and member of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Comrade Christian Njoku, has been allegedly shot and killed by policemen attached to the Ekpan police division in Delta State.
According to Andrew Aniamaka, the Delta State police spokesman, the deceased was a member of a four-man robbery gang and was killed on Jakpa Road, Effurun, on Monday night at about 9:30 p.m. during a shootout with policemen on patrol.
But angry members of CDHR who on Wednesday protested against the killing of Njoku in Warri said the deceased was not a robber but a responsible businessman and member of the group and had never been involved in any criminal incident in the past.
Chairman of CDHR, Comrade Kehinde Prince Taiga said the police framed the late Njoku as a robber to find an excuse for the dastardly murder of the unarmed activist.
Taiga said they had conducted their own investigation on what happened on the night of June 18, and discovered that there was no incident of robbery in the location where he was killed.
He said the deceased was murdered in cold blood by police officers from Ekpan and that he was shot in the chest for simply arguing with the police.
He said: “We asked, who brought the body to the mortuary.
Mortuary attendants said the body was brought by policemen who did not disclose their particulars.
“We met the DPO of Ekpan police station, who told us he was not aware but that there was a report of exchange of gunfire by policemen and four armed robbers.
“We looked at the car that the four men were driving in, there was no blood stain anywhere, neither were there bullet holes in the car, so how come the police said the unarmed men exchanged gunfire with them.
“We wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police, he said the matter would be investigated.
“We have realized that the police in Delta are always attacking our members because of our regular public campaign that no one should pay money for bail.
“We will continue to preach that bail is free.
“The police also have been threatening me that any time they meet me in a quiet place they will kill me. We want a proper investigation of this lawless and dastardly murder and the police killers should be fished out and brought to book.
“Nigerian police that are paid to protect citizens are now killing citizens.
“The police now kill innocent people and put weapons on them that they are armed robber.
“The police must work within the armpit of the law. We will continue to preach that bail is free,” the CDHR chairman said.
Taiga added that three weeks ago, a member of the body was also shot at Udu, saying the incident of unprovoked shooting by the police in Delta was on the increase and if not checked could snowball into something deadly.
He appealed to the Inspector General of Police to wade into the matter and order a proper investigation saying the Delta police command had almost succeeded in sweeping all the evidence incriminating them away including asking the mortuary officials to stitch up the bullet wound and hid the spot.
However, the state police spokesman, Andrew Aniamaka, said it was a case of armed robbery, that there was an exchange of gunfire during which the deceased was shot and died on the way to the hospital.
He said: “On Monday, June 18, at about 9:30p.m. while along Jakpa Road, patrol team intercepted one Toyota Solara car, black coloured with registration number LSD 561 BC Lagos with four unknown armed men, who on sighting the patrol team opened fire, which resulted in gun-battle between the police and the hoodlums.
“In the course of cross firing, one of the unknown hoodlums sustained bullet injury but later died on the way to the hospital while others escaped.
“One cut-to-size locally-made double barrel gun, two life cartridges, and one Infinix phone were recovered from him.
“The body has been deposited at the Warri Central Hospital. Investigation is in progress to track down the fleeing hoodlums,” he said.