Monday, October 25, 2021

Residents fume as police murder Bayelsa youth in custody

The police claim the suspect murdered in its custody was a mastermind of a robbery incident.

and • September 25, 2021
Echeng Echeng
Bayelsa CP, Echeng Echeng

There has been an uproar in Biogbolo community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa over the murder of a 27-year-old man in police custody and the arrest of residents who protested his killing.

Goodluck Oviekeme was arrested and detained by the police on September 21 over allegations of armed robbery but was declared dead barely 24 hours later.

His death sparked major protests in the area as residents accused the police of extra judicial killing.

Ebitonye Michael, brother to the deceased, alleged that the police special squad murdered Mr Oviekeme in detention and dumped his body at the Federal Medical Centre in Yenagoa.

But the police in Bayelsa claimed the deceased was the mastermind of a robbery incident where a police team was attacked and a rifle belonging to an inspector, Ugbotor Sunday, was stolen.

“He was arrested on 22 September, 2021 at about 0300 hours, while in Police custody the suspect was observed to be running a high temperature and was rushed to the hospital where he eventually died,” a statement sent to Peoples Gazette by state police spokesman, Butswat Asinim, on Saturday, read.

Mr Asinim, however, said state police commissioner Echeng E. Echeng has ordered a discreet investigation and autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Meanwhile, community leaders have condemned the police for the unlawful detention of its indigenes by the police as a result of the uprising.

Paramount ruler of the community, Michael Ibu, said on Saturday that indigenes of the community who were arrested during Tuesday protest were being detained without being charged to court or stating their offence.

He said the police had also denied access to the detainees, adding that the community is worried for their safety.

The paramount ruler called on the Bayelsa governor, his deputy, and lawmakers representing the area to intervene in the matter and secure the release of members of his community.

President of Epie Kingdom Youth Congress, Gilbert Ayimini, also condemned the arrest and illegal detention of indigenes of the community and called for the unconditional release of those arrested.

A community member, Basil Jonah, and the councillor representing Ward Five in Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bobby Gabriel, also decried the manner of the arrest.

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