A trigger-happy police man attached to the residence of an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, last week Thursday, shot two Plateau State indigenes who went to a palm-wine drinking joint to unwind. While one of the victims, a classroom teacher, Mr Luka Baren, later died from the injuries he sustained, his friend and tribesman, Mr. Pius Musaje, is said to be receiving treatment in his home town.
LEADERSHIP reliably learnt that the incident occurred in Gwarimpa estate around 7pm, when teacher Luka and Pius went to the palm-wine joint located at a local market on the 2nd Avenue. They took their seats and ordered for the drink. Shortly after, the police orderly came in clutching his service riffle. He took his seat and ordered for a drink.
Trouble was said to have started when some minstrels came into the joint with their drums and gongs playing close to the tables of people who were drinking and expecting some alms from them. It was learnt that when the minstrels got to the table where the police orderly sat, and started playing their musical instruments, the officer who felt irritated ordered them to leave the place, saying that they were disturbing him.
When the praise singers continued playing, thinking that the officer was merely sounding off, the officer raised his riffle, aimed into the sky and shot a bullet. The action scared many of the people in the joint who immediately took to their heels for dear life.
However, Pius and Luka who had only sat down and were just about savouring their drinks when the incident occurred sat put and continued drinking.
LEADERSHIP further learnt that the officer who did not look provoked when he entered the joint, suddenly, aimed his riffle at the two men who were unwinding, and fired a shot at them. The bullet was said to have passed through a chair, hit the right hand of Pius and finally lodged inside the left leg of Luka.
According to some witnesses, shortly after the incident, some sympathizers who were shocked by the policeman’s action, immediately made to grab the officer and perhaps arrest him when he pointed the nozzle of his riffle at them and threatened to shoot anyone who dared come near him. He was said to have been moving backwards as he issued the threat and later made his escape.
The matter was reported at the police outpost in Gwarimpa and a police officer was attached to the sympathisers to enable them carry the wounded to the Gwarimpa General Hospital. It was learnt that at the hospital, Luka who had the bullet lodged in his thigh, was still bleeding profusely.
The Gwarimpa hospital was said to have advised them to take the men to another hospital. They took them to the Wuse General Hospital and later to Maitama General Hospital but both hospitals said they did not have an orthopedic specialist to handle the injuries.
A Plateau State indigene and chairman of the Birom community in Abuja and its environs, Mr. Peter Iyam, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that when he was informed about the incident, he quickly got to the hospital where they were lodged, where he said, he found that the case was a serious one.
“It was on the 28th of last month that they called and informed me that two people had been shot and they are of my own stock. I quickly went there and discovered that the case was actually bad. I requested for an ambulance, but there were some bureaucratic bottlenecks, I couldn’t get an ambulance. So I had to use my car as an ambulance. We were referred to Wuse General Hospital. We went to Wuse General Hospital they did not admit them. We went to Asokoro they said they don’t have an orthopedic specialist. We enquired from Maitama they replied same. So I had no choice than to rush them to Gwagwalada.
“Luka almost died because blood was just flowing from the wound. So, I had to try my best to rush him to Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital. All along, we had a police attached to us but when we opted to go to Gwagwalada Specialist, he dropped and said that is outside his jurisdiction. And so we lodged them in Wuse General Hospital and then Pius, who was shot in the hand, was immediately attended to in the theater but for the late Luka, the specialist didn’t come on time so he had to wait.
“The next day I got a call that I have to come and pick the patients that their condition cannot be effectively handled in Gwagwalada hospital. So we took them from Gwagwalada but the parents of Pius agreed and resolved to take him home for further medical treatment. Even though the doctor advised that the chances of him having his hand fully restored was 50/50 per cent. But they decided to take him home and I think he is doing well. I have not heard any adverse report from the relations at home.
“But for Luka Baren, we took him to National Hospital and immediately they started attending to him. They did all the necessary test, still he was still bleeding because the bullet was still in his thigh. On Sunday, I got a call that I have to come back because they needed more money to add more blood. I was in Keffi, Nasarawa State then, so, I had to rush back to Abuja but before I came around 6pm, I was informed that Luka had died,” he said.
Barr. Iyam said he went straight to the Gwarimpa Police Station to report the latest development and was informed that the officer who shot the duo later turned himself in and had been detained at the State Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The DPO of the station was said to have asked the IPO handling the matter to amend the charge sheet to reflect murder since one of the victims was dead.
The chairman who lamented that the police abandoned the family and friends of the victims to handle all the hospital expenses, told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the Birom community has resolved to petition the Inspector General of Police, the FCT Commissioner of Police as well as the National Human Rights Commission urging them to ensure that the officer who carried out the act was punished and adequate compensation paid to the family.
He pointed out that both men were married and had children whose hope for the future he said “has been dashed as a result of the mindless action of a police officer”.
“Right now, I wish to tell you that Luka and Pius are all married with children. Luka came to Abuja to look for means to fend for his family. Luka is a primary school teacher teaching in Ruwa Bachi in Riyom LGA. Because of prolonged teachers’ strike, he decided to come to Abuja to look for a means to fend for his family.
“Luckily he got a job to dig a foundation and he had been paid an initial deposit of N10,000 and now he has met his unfortunate demise. We are worried because who will fend for his family? Pius, of course, is also married and the chances of him recovering his hand is very slim and supposing the worse happens that he loses his right hand, it means he has been permanently incapacitated.
“So as a result of this, we are calling on the police to conduct a full scale investigation by identifying the officer concerned and the full weight of the law should be applied. The said police officer, having faced the full weight of the law, we want the police to refund all the monies we have paid on the victims because they didn’t give us a single dime.
“They have to give an unreserved apology to the family of the deceased and then the family also consulted and we all agreed that the police should pay a compensation of N20million, that is N10million to each of the families because these are young men who are still coming up and their future and the future of the family of late Luka has been jeopardized. And also, Pius is still alive the Police should step in and take over his treatment.
When LEADERSHIP SUNDAY visited the Gwarimpa police station to ascertain the identity of the suspected trigger-happy officer, the DPO was not available. His second in command, one Samuel Onoja, who spoke directed this reporter to the command headquarter where the FCT police spokesperson would react. An officer who did not want his name in print however said the incident actually happened and the officer was cooling his heels in one of the SARS cells.
Every attempt to get the FCT spokesperson, Doris England, to react to the allegation proved abortive as she refused to pick her calls. She also did not reply a text message sent to her phone asking her to react to the incident. At the FCT SARS, also mum was the word as no officer was willing to speak on the matter.
A family source of the late LUKA who spoke with LEADERSHIP under condition of anonymity, expressed fears that the police were not willing to disclose the identity of the officer because they would not want to prosecute one of their own for a murder offence.