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Soldier kills unarmed businessman at Checkpoint in Imo

This picture is for illustration only
This picture is for illustration only

Soldiers have allegedly shot an unarmed businessman, Noel Chigbu at Owerri North Local Government area of Imo State.

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The 39-year-old, Chigbu, a father of two infants with a pregnant wife, was allegedly killed by soldiers at the Amakohia Flyover checkpoint around 10.00 pm last Friday, The Nation learnt.

He was said to have taken delivery of his new Toyota Camry car (spider) and was returning to his house when the incident happened.

This picture is for illustration only
This picture is for illustration only

A spokesperson for the family, Tobechi Chigbu, accused military men at Amakohia flyover in Owerri of killing his younger brother.

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According to the distraught eldest brother, Noel, who operated a Shawarma shop at Akwakuma Roundabout, was killed after dropping his friend on his way home.

He claimed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations in the state told the family the soldiers said they shot him because he “violated their checkpoint rule.”

He vowed the family would make sure the military men who killed his brother were identified and prosecuted.

According to him:

“Noel is one of my younger brothers. He is the owner of Shawarma zone in front of Home Away Palace by Ukaigwe Hospital, Akwakuma junction, Owerri.

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“He just finished dropping his friend who also does the same business with him in front of Amakohia market. It was around 10 pm on Friday, April 30.

“His friend he dropped said that it was not up to two to three minutes he dropped him and left that he heard gunshots the destination Noel drove to and people including him scampered for safety. He didn’t know that it was his friend, my brother that was shot by the soldiers.

“His whereabouts became unknown as he didn’t return home that night. His wife became worried and started calling us. The number was ringing and nobody was picking it until about 5:30 in the evening the next day.

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“One person picked it and said that he is a policeman that works in the control room at the State Police Command headquarters in Owerri and asked us to come.

“At first we felt he had a problem with somebody without knowing that the military men had killed him and dumped his corpse in a morgue at FMC Owerri.

“On reaching the Police Command headquarters, my brother identified his new car and when we approached the car we found out the back windscreen was shot. All the four tyres were shot and deflected. We also saw blood on the driver’s seat. Chika Chigbu, my younger brother immediately sensed danger.

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“The front windscreen and all the window glasses were intact. Only the back windscreen was shattered with gunshots.

“When we got there they directed us to the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations. The DCP in charge of operations told us that soldiers brought the vehicle at about 1 am on Saturday.

“The soldiers dropped his phone, the car key, and a bunch of keys that contain his house keys with the police. He also said that the military guys dropped N5, 400 belonging to my brother.

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“At first, he said that the military men didn’t want to make any statement but the police insisted and reluctantly in a quarter-page sheet the soldiers wrote that the owner of the vehicle which is my brother violated their checkpoint rule and they shut and killed him. They also wrote that the relatives of the owner of the vehicle should be referred to FMC in Owerri if they come.

“The DCP asked us to go to the morgue and that we shouldn’t bother going to the emergency unit of the hospital. That was when we knew that he was dead. The DCP then handed me over the money, his phone and the keys and I took a photograph with him.

“At FMC, we went to the morgue but the attendant asked for a tally but we said we didn’t have any tally. We explained to him that we were talking about the person that was brought by the soldiers.

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‘’They now took us to where the corpse was on the corridor after I had paid all the necessary fees. The military men who killed him refused to register him properly and the attendant said they were even threatening them.

‘’When we uncovered his body we saw two bullet holes at the back of his head and one bullet hole at the backside of his chest region. The bullet is still in his body as we speak.”

Tobechi said the family would make a proper presentation to the military, demanding justice for him.

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He added: “His wife is four months old pregnant as we speak. He had a son that turned two years a day after he was killed by the military. His daughter is only four years.

“We want to ensure that an innocent and hardworking young man like my brother gets justice. He was killed by people who are paid by our taxes. People who were supposed to protect him,” he cried.

When contacted, spokesperson of 34 Artillery Brigade, Obinze, Owerri, Capt. Babatunde Zubairu, said that he was not aware of the incident.

He said he would only be aware of the family makes an official presentation to the military.

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Written by Adesoji OMOSEBI

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