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Policeman, two protesters killed

Hell was practically let loose yesterday in Benin, Edo State as a bus conductor, a policeman and two others were killed when violence erupted in the ancient town.
Trouble started when policemen attached to Esigie Divisional Station allegedly pushed a commercial bus driver to death.
Unfortunately, the driver, identified simply as Sunny, was said to be preparing for his wedding slated for next week.
In the ensuing violent clash between riot policemen and drivers aided by irate youths a policeman was killed while two others were shot dead.
Also, several civilians sustained injuries.
The incident occurred about 9a.m. close to the popular Upper Igun Junction on the sloppy end of the Murtala Mohammed Way otherwise known as Third East Circular Road.
Ironically, the would-be wife was said to be among the passengers inside the commercial bus when the man was killed.
She wept profusely while sympathisers tried in vain to console her.
Four Hilux police patrol vans and one truck belonging to the state Task Force on Illegal Trading were set ablaze while other vehicles were smashed by irate youths and bus drivers along major routes in demonstration of their anger during a spontaneous protest.
The rioters made bonfires and barricaded the roads and adjoining locations within the area.
Riot policemen deployed to quell the crisis fired several canisters of tear gas to disperse the protesters.
But this infuriated the mob which set the divisional police station located on First East Circular Road on fire.
They also made bonfires along the busy Murtala Mohammed Way, First East Circular, Second East Circular and Akpakpava roads.
This crippled movement as motorists made detours through alternative routes which caused several hours of gridlock within the New Benin Market, Upper Mission and others adjoining areas.
As at the time of this report, markets, shops and other business centres and activities were paralysed. Roads were deserted while people and market women trekked several kilometres with loads on their heads.
The situation was made worse as it coincided with Ikpoba Hill Market day which usually attracts hundreds of shoppers from across the seven local government areas of Edo South Senatorial District in the state.
It was learnt that the policemen asked Sunny to stop at a road block near the sloppy junction.
A hot argument ensued when the policemen demanded N200 from the deceased before they would let him continue with his journey.
Sunny gave them N100 but they rejected it and asked him to park for proper check on his vehicle particulars.
Sources said while the driver was arguing with the policemen, one of them pushed Sunny which made him to fall down.
The witnesses said an articulated truck descending the slope crushed his head in the process.
This elicited the ire of other bus drivers, sympathisers and passers-by, who attacked the policemen.
The mob resisted attempts by relations of the deceased and the police to remove Sunny’s body from the scene of the incident.
Meanwhile, Governor Godwin Obaseki yesterday called for calm over the killing.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, the governor urged aggrieved parties to “allow for justice to run its due course, as efforts are underway to ensure that those liable for the crime are brought to book”.
Obaseki condemned the fact that the incident degenerated into civil disturbance, noting that there were better ways to resolve the crisis.
He said: “The relevant security agencies are on the alert to quell further breakdown of law and order in the area. We also appeal to the people to be calm and cooperate with security agencies to bring in those responsible for the unrest.”
Also, the state Police Commissioner, Babatunde Kokumo, said the police had commenced investigation into the incident.
He said nobody had been able to state what actually happened except hearsay.
Kokumo explained that all eyewitness statements that had been obtained did not state categorically that they were present when the deceased was pushed by the policemen.
He said: “We are investigating the allegation. We want eyewitnesses to give a proper account. Nobody has come out to say it was the police that pushed the man. The allegation was made against the police and we will investigate. Investigation is ongoing; it is unfortunate that it happened. Nobody has said he saw the policeman pushed the driver.”

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Policeman, two protesters killed Hell was practically let loose yesterday in Benin, Edo State as a bus conductor, a policeman and two others were killed when violence erupted in the ancient town. Trouble started when policemen attached to Esigie Divisional Station allegedly pushed a commercial bus driver to death. Unfortunately, the driver,...