There is palpable tension in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital following the gruesome murder of the Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Comrade Ubong Udo Udofia, by angry Policemen.
Udofia, 45, a.k.a ‘Evolution’, was said to have been killed by four policemen who used to hit him after trying unsuccessfully to kill him through direct shooting.
Narrating her ordeal at their home at 179, Ikpa Road, Afaha Oku, Uyo, the state capital on Friday, the distraught wife, Margareth, fighting back tears, explained that her husband met his untimely death when minor argument with a Policeman resulted in full blown brawl.
“I was just returning from the market when I was called suddenly to witness what happened to my husband. When I got to the place, my husband was already gasping for breath until he gave up in my present”.
According to her, “a Policeman had parked his car and was loading passengers near the Itam motor park, when members of the task force working for my husband accosted him and directed that he should enter the park and load so others should not join”.
The Policeman, on mufti, she added, resisted and the task force members demanded for the car key and he refused. The car, it was gathered, was pushed into the park on the orders for the deceased to adjudicate on the matter.
“My husband was inside another vehicle waiting for the car owner, not knowing he had called four of his colleagues, who arrived, and immediately opened fire but when the bullets could not get at him, they resorted to using gun butts to club him till he became unconscious.
“Several other Policemen attached to construction firm, Julius Berger, were called for more reinforcement and more sporadic shooting followed leading to people scampering for safety including the task force officers,” she explained.
Mrs. Udofia, who lamented over what would become of her nine children left behind with the death of her husband, called the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the state Police Command and the government of governor Udom Emmanuel, to ensure justice was done in the case.
“We have nine children to take care of and the eldest is just 15 and none has entered the university yet. So my appeal is that my husband should not die in vain because all the evidence point to deliberate and premeditated murder because my husband and the task force members did not beat the Policeman.
“All they did was just to direct him to comply with the regulation of loading in the park and not constitute road nuisance by loading on the road side because touting is illegal in Akwa Ibom.
“Luckily, one of the Policemen who participated in my husband’s death was trying to escape from the scene and unfortunately for him, his identity card fell off his shirt and was picked up as evidence on the scene.
“The name of the Policeman is Sergeant Nwafor Silas, from Ebonyi State Police Command and attached to Julius Berger with service number; 425015”, she said.
Disturbed by the incident, it was gathered that NURTW officials were poised for protest, even as angry youths of Afaha Oku, were said to have plotted a reprisal attack.
The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Itam Division, CSP Francis Irabor, who visited the deceased at the God’s Own Hospital, Park Road, before he died, promised full scale investigation into the matter, assuring that appropriate punishment would be meted on the culprits.
Besides, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Odike Macdon, confirmed the incident but could not ascertain whether any reprisal attacks were in the offing.
The truth of the matter, he assured would be known at the end of the investigations, even as he appealed to the people not to take the laws into their own hands.
The remains of the late task force chair, according to the family have been deposited at the Etang Ekak Mortuary along IBB Way, Uyo.