Imo Sampson Ekanem, a final-year student in the Department of Mass Communication in the Uyo City Polytechnic, Nduetong Oku, Akwa Ibom State, must have looked forward to his graduation day with high hopes and probably a dash of youthful optimism. But while running errands on his mother’s motorcycle, he was allegedly shot dead by a policeman in his hometown, Nkek, in Ukanafun Local Government Area of the state because he did not give the N100 bribe allegedly demanded from him. According to media reports, the policemen had been deployed in the local government area from the special squad attached to the state police commissioner, Mr. Zubairu Muazu, to curb the rampant cult activities in the area.
Eyewitnesses claimed that a heated argument had ensued between Ekanem and one of the policemen after a stop and search exercise was conducted on him. Finding nothing incriminating on him, the errant policeman was alleged to have demanded a bribe of N100, which the deceased refused to pay. However, the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Chukwu Ikechukwu, while confirming the incident, denied that the young man was shot because he refused to bribe the police. According to him, Ekanem was shot dead because he attempted to disarm the policeman. But the police have been unable to validate this claim against a man who was so vulnerable at the point of death. The young man simply could not have expected to disarm the policeman in the presence of his colleagues.
Policemen have been known to be drunk and unruly while on duty on several occasions and killing innocent, hapless citizens has arguably grown to become their favourite sport. Without qualms, the evidence is usually twisted against the dead victim in order to help the aggressive policeman to escape sanction. The truth is that the police have lost the trust and confidence of the public, and the theory that the unarmed Ekanem attempted to wrest a weapon from a policeman while his colleagues watched is not credible. Many families have been similarly circumstanced with the deaths of their loved ones and eventually had to mourn their woes privately after failing to get justice. The memory of the Apo Six still rankles and we also remember with indignation, the precipitated murder of a senior police officer in Imo State. If the police have handled cases concerning their officers and men with a callous disposition, what chance do citizens like Ekanem have to be eventually vindicated? The implication of such a dolorous inference is grave. The security of the citizens of this country should not be in the hands of a nest of murderers.
In the particular case of Ekanem, the police spokesman indicated that the state police commissioner had ordered the Area Commander of Ikot Ekpene to transfer the matter to the State Criminal Investigation Department for a thorough investigation so that justice would be served. We can only hope that justice would be done in this case because Nigerians are tired of empty promises. There is an avalanche of similar cases that have not been resolved, leading to rampant self-help and jungle justice. There is therefore a desperate and compulsive need to make the police to live down their poor reputation and sullied image and secure the trust and confidence of the people, especially in a democratic dispensation. The point to start from is stopping the needless killing of citizens immediately.
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