Police in Edo state have arrested a police officer charged with firing a shot that killed Moses Adam, 25, in Benin city.
The incident is said to have occurred at approximately 4:08 p.m. on Friday, September 17, when Adam, said to be the only son of his parents, arrived Benin from Lagos to attend the wedding of his sister.
SP Kontongs Bello, the command’s spokesperson, explained in a statement on Saturday that the officer had been trying to arrest a murder suspect, Ebuka Nwaechie, when he fired a bullet to restrain him from fleeing.
Kontongs said the bullet hit the thigh of one of the passengers in a moving vehicle, adding that the victim was rushed to the Edo Specialist Hospital, where he later died.
An erring officer will undergo an administrative trial that will determine his culpability, according to the statement. The bullet accidentally hit Moses Adam, who died at Edo Specialist Hospital.
Police Commissioner Philip Ogbadu expressed sadness over the incident and condoled with the family of the deceased.
He further added that Ogbadu has directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of criminal investigation to conduct a discreet investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.
His message to the public is that if any officer that acts unprofessionally in the course of his duties is erring or overzealous, the CP will not hesitate to take action against them.
The family of the victim and the public were urged to remain calm to permit a thorough investigation.
Nwaechie is suspected of being involved in the alleged murder of Bright Orikose on December 24, 2020.
Esther, one of Adam’s elder sisters, disagreed with the account. She regretted the police’s attempt to twist the narrative.
According to the doctor who treated my brother, my brother was hit by a close-range bullet and lost a lot of blood before he died. You can just imagine what the police are now telling us about the crime deliberately committed by their officer.” she said.
Foundation For Investigative Journalism FIJ reports that the deceased was in a vehicle with his friend, Kelvin Uwumunse while other friends were in another car when the incident occurred.
As they were leaving a tailor’s shop where he had gone to pick out clothes for his sister’s wedding, “some police detectives on mufti violently stopped their cars”.
Adam and his friends were unsure of the identity of the people on the road with them, so they tried a detour, but were shot at.
As soon as I heard a gunshot in front of me, I reversed, but they kept shooting at my tyre,” Uwumunse said.
Afterward, one of them shot at the door beside me and the bullet hit Adam on the thigh. To get to Edo Specialist Hospital, I drove straight there. Had I known they were police officers, I would have stopped immediately, but the way they drove and shot sporadically made me think they were kidnappers.”
After losing so much blood, Adam died in the hospital.
Adam’s family’s lawyers, Emmanuel Chinalu, Uwumunse, and others visited Esigie Police Station to report the crime while he was being treated at the hospital before he was killed and discovered the attackers were from the CID.
The CID was shocked to learn that three of Adam’s friends had been arrested and detained.
Chinalu told FIJ his men shot someone during an operation, and even the officer in charge was shocked.
“He claimed the officers never fired a shot, much less hit anyone with a bullet. It wasn’t until we got to the hospital that the police listened and gave us N120,000 for treatment.”
About 2 am on Saturday, Adam Obasanjo’s remains were deposited at the Stella Obasanjo Mortuary in Benin shortly after he died following the departure of his police guests on Friday evening.
Saturday afternoon, there were more revelations about the incident. The FIJ discovered that the police officers who ambushed Adam and his friends had been following them without their knowledge.
According to Osasu Egharevva, one of the detainees, the police’s investigation was prompted by the fact that one of the drivers, Ebuka Nwaechie, was a murder suspect. Ebuka had no case with the police until the police detained and tortured us.”
Egharevva also suffered a mild injury to his leg after a stray bullet struck him. Despite being under arrest, he said he paid for his own treatment at the police clinic.
The doctor told me that I would need some things, but the police did not have the money. I transferred over N9,000 for my own treatment.” he said.
Philip Ogbadu, the Edo State Commissioner of Police, was informed of the case on Saturday and ordered the unconditional release of two out of the three detainees, as well as the return of their two seized cars. Nevertheless, Nwaechie, the actual murder suspect, remains in custody.
The Benin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association’s Police Duty Solicitors Scheme called for a proper prosecution of rogue police officers.
Amechi Nwaozor, a member of PDSS, signed a statement calling on “the Police High Command, the State Government, the National Human Rights Commission, and the National Assembly to determine and prosecute the rightful perpetrators of these abuses”.