By: Osagie Otabor, Benin
A member of vigilance group in Obadolovbiyeyi community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, Mr. Efe Igbnovia, has been shot dead by soldiers.
The soldiers were said to have released some herdsmen who were nabbed for armed robbery.
Witnesses said the vigilance group had arrested some herdsmen for armed robbery along the Benin-Abraka expressway and late Igbinovia was asked to watch over the arrested herdsmen while went after other fleeing members of the gang.
The witness said a group of armed men in military uniforms arrived in a Honda car marked AP 641 KTN and fired at Igbinovia after which they set the arrested suspects free.
A member of the community, Mr. Henry Osemwengie, said that the vigilance group had earlier arrested about six herdsmen for robbery and took to the Ugbekun police station.
Osemwengie said, “Two of the herdsmen were caught. Igbinovia was asked to stay.
Before then, the police had been called to come and pick them (herdsmen) because that is what we normally do. Suddenly, a red Honda car with about four of them putting on military uniforms carrying AK47 rifles came and started shooting.
“Igbinovia shouted that he had been shot. When the other people (vigilantes) came back, they discovered that Igbinovia was already down. They (armed men) killed him and went away with two robbers. Robbers, most of whom are Hausa, usually operate there. They keep their cows by the side, block the road and start robbing.”
Cousin of the deceased, Mr Onaghise Willson said his late brother was allegedly shot by the men in military uniforms before taking some of the arrested armed herders to the hospital for treatment.
Members of the community, however, stormed the Benin Central hospital to mob some the arrested suspects but were by the police.
State commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Mr Makinde Iskil said some persons have been arrested.
Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Kokumo, who confirmed the incident said, “The herdsmen were alleged to have blocked the expressway. Two of them are with the police undergoing interrogation.
On the alleged killing of the vigilante by armed men in military uniforms, Kokumo said, “That is an allegation we are investigating. Actually, one of the vigilance members died in the course of duty.”
A spokesperson for the 4 Brigade Command of the Nigerian Army, Capt. Mohammed Maidawa, said troop deplored to Ologbo for pipeline protection received a tip-off from locals closed to their location of suspected armed robbery activities.
He said the troop mobilised to the scene and engaged armed men at the scene but unfortunately one person who was later identified as a member of the vigilante was killed.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the vigilante group also responded to a distress call on the robbery operation.
The vigilante started demonstration but the situation has been brought under control,”