Residents of Akemfa, a suburb in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State of Nigeria, on Saturday blocked all access roads to protest the killing of Tariela Nikadae, a 20 year old undergraduate by a member of a Police Patrol Team on Friday.
The protesters allege that Policemen in patrol vans load people from their neigbourhoods in their vans and send them to detention centres near the Police headquarters in Yenagoa where they are meant to pay to secure their liberty.
The protest by angry youths who claimed the victim was innocent and a known person without criminal tendencies disrupted vehicular movement, compelling residents to remain in the area.
The incident is sequel to coordinated police raids leading to arbitrary mass arrests and detention of residents by the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Bayelsa Police Command.
It was gathered that the operation followed the withdrawal of the Bayelsa Government Security outfit, Operation Doo Akpo. The Police thereafter deployed patrol vans to arrest people indiscriminately and convey them to the SARS detention facility in Yenagoa.
The arrested residents, many of whom were whisked from their residences were usually detained overnight and freed after they were ‘screened’ or when their relatives come to report their disappearance and pay varying bribes to get them freed.
Reacting to the development and the subsequent killing of the student of Bayelsa Government owned Niger Delta University, Police Spokesman, DSP Asinim Butswat said the trigger happy cop has been disarmed and arrested.
Butswat said that the circumstances that led to the death of the 20 year old was ‘questionable’ and being investigated, adding that the command would make its findings public after its investigations.
“Bayelsa State Police Command condoles with the family and assures that justice will be done.
“The Bayelsa State Police Command regrets the unfortunate incident involving a Police Officer and a resident of Tenacious Road, Edepie, Yenagoa.
“On 23 November, 2018, Sergeant Timadi Emmanuel attached to a patrol team of Akenfa Division, while on patrol at Tenacious Road, Edepie, under questionable circumstances shot one Tariela Nikade, male,.aged 20..
“The victim was rushed to the hospital, where he was later confirmed dead.
“The Sergeant has been disarmed, arrested and is undergoing orderly room trial. Investigation is in progress and it’s outcome will be made public.
“The Command is hereby appealing to residents to be calm and assures the family and the general public that justice will be done,” Butswat said.
Several victims of the indiscriminate arrests said that the Policemen made no efforts to screen them and did not listen to their defence.
Mr Prosper Jacobs, who was arrested alongside many others on Thursday night said that he was assaulted and bruised for daring to tell the Police team that he was innocent and committed no crime.
“The team just parked their van on our street at Ebis Mechanic road Amarata, when they wanted to force me to enter the van I insisted on knowing what my offence was and they assaulted me and left me afterward with injuries.
“Many others were then taken away in the van and detained overnight, their relatives were asked to pay between N5,000 and N10,000 before they were freed,” Jacobs said.
Another victim, Michael Gibson, a civil servant said that he was arrested when he went to buy recharge cards in Amarata area of Yenagoa. He said he was picked up by the Police team and forced into the patrol van.
“They never cared to listen to any explanations. I told them that I am a teacher and that they could verify my claim from my neigbours, but they took me and others and locked us up. My brother came and negotiated and paid them to free me.
“I heard them discussing the amount in low tones and they have a room where relatives enter to pay the agreed sum. I saw my relative enter the room but I do not know exactly how much he paid,” he said.
The Bayelsa Government had in a statement by the Information Commissioner, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, alleged that the frequent deployment of Police Commissioners to Bayelsa was being politicized.