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‘We’ll Not Succumb To Pressure’ – Police On Alleged Shooting Of Protesters In Delta

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..Says protest was dispersed with tear gas, no shots fired

The Delta State Police Command has denied shooting at protesters in Ughelli, clarifying that no one was shot during the protest, contrary to reports circulating in the media.

Multiple reports had that on May 6, 2024 police opened fire on protesting women in Ughelli North LGA, injuring about five persons but the police says the protest was only dispersed using tear gas.

According to a statement by Police Public Relations Officer, SP Bright Edafe, the protest began when members of the Oteri community requested that police be withdrawn from the express road, but the Area Commander declined, citing a directive from the Commissioner of Police to maintain a police presence in the area to prevent kidnapping and other crimes.

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He said that the situation escalated when a group of women from the community stormed the Area Command premises, injuring a policeman, and were subsequently dispersed with tear gas.

“The Command is aware of an allegedly sponsored protest in Ughelli North LGA today 6/5/2024 and wishes to debunk the false narratives currently being circulated on some sections of the media that Policemen shot at peaceful protesters. The Command wishes to state that nobody was shot during the protest, however, the use of tear gas was rightly used to disperse the protesters. For the avoidance of doubt and to put the record straight, the Command wishes to state as follows;

“On 6th May 2024, at about 1130 hours, some members of Oteri community, Ughelli approached the Area Commander Ughelli and requested that Policemen be withdrawn from the express road. The Area commander declined and informed them that the deployment was in compliance with the directive of the Commissioner of Police CP Abaniwonda Olufemi on the need to ensure police presence in that area to prevent kidnapping and other crimes. Surprisingly, women from the community in their numbers forcefully stormed the Area command premises in a violent protest, beating up a policeman in the process, and they were dispersed with the use of tear gas. The report making rounds that Policemen shot at peaceful protesters is false and should be completely disregarded”.

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But a report in the Vanguard says no fewer than five women from Oteri community are currently in a critical state at the Central Hospital Ughelli as police attached to the Ughelli Area Command allegedly opened fire on them during a protest march.

The newspaper reports that the protesters armed with leaves, accused the police from Ughelli Area of illegal arrest, molestation, and intimidation.

One of victim who spoke from her hospital bed, Miss Valentine Adomi, 24, a tailor, said, “I was on my way to the market to buy materials when I saw my family people at the front of the police station, and I alighted from the motorcycle to inquire from them why they were there.

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“Immediately, I heard sounds of gunshots and tear gas, and I saw people running, and I was also running back. I felt something touch my leg that made me not be able to run.

“I heard people shouting that I had been shot on my right leg by the police. They rushed me to Central Hospital Ughelli after I lost much blood.” she stated.

Also speaking, Mrs. Vivian Aphiare said, “The number of police road blocks from their division to Oteri is over five, and for that reason, no tricycle or Keke would want to come towards the community.

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“As that is not enough, they would come into the community to arrest our people illegally, and when you gets to the station to make an inquiry, they will ask you to bail your wards between the sum of N150,000 to N200,000.

“We were actually protesting to the palace to meet and complain to our royal father about the activities of the police, but on getting to the front of the police station, the police shot tear gas toward us, and as that was not enough, they opened gunshots on us without any iota of provocation.

“We want the police to leave the Oteri Road because we are tired of their excesses, intimidation, and illegal arrest and molestation of our children and husbands.”

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On her part, Mama Harvest Ugbuwiako said, “We are protesting against the numerous roadblocks belonging to the police, the illegal arrest of our children, and the searching of their phones for no just cause.

“The police use the Pos machine to check the accounts of our children to know how much they have in their various accounts.

“The police have roadblock at Emurotu Isodje, GRA, Back of Government College, and front of the Ughelli Police station respectively and for that reason, no biker or Keke rider would be willing to come to Oteri.

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“We don’t have armed robbers and kidnappers in our community, but the police are making life difficult for the people of Oteri-Ughelli as their multiple check points caused transportation to increase from N100 to N500.

“They opened tear gas on us, shot at us, and one of our daughters was shot on the leg, and she is currently on admission at Ughelli Central Hospital. Many others were physically injured.

“Police are meant to mount roadblocks at the end of a community and not at the center of a town. They took three mobile phones of our children, iPhone 13, iPhone 8 and iPhone 12—and beat our woman secretary with planks.

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“They planked other women with wood, and they are currently receiving treatment at different places. We do not want police on our roads again.” She insisted.

Lamenting the torture of the police on them, the President General of the Oteri-Ughelli community, Hon. Erakpofoke Peter, said, “What happened today was a peaceful protest by the women to tell the world that they no longer need police in Oteri because of their mishaps of illegal extortion.

“Their activities in the Oteri community are extremely inhuman, and we want to beg the government that we are no longer interested in the police station; they should look for a new site to go and leave our land.

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“Our women no longer go to the market and when the new DPO was posted here, I told him about our challenges, and he saw reasons with me and promised that he was going to do something about it.

“The women came out to protest against what the police did in Oteri, they destroyed the young man’s properties, his television, and carted away so many things from the apartment.

“The activities of the police has gone so bad that as of 9:00 p.m., you will never see a bike or Keke coming to Oteri because of their extortion, brutalisation, molestation and illegal arrest and as a result, they could not go market again, and that is their grievances.”

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Those currently on admission are, Valentine Adomi 24, Edith Itive 37, Akaeze Joy 22,

Loveth Brown-Tate, 42, with an injury to her right eye, Mrs. Lucky Philip, 48, with an injury to her right hand; and many others.

(Additional reporting from Vanguard)

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