By Buchi Iwuji
Owerri Residents of Isiozi Aka village in Umuaka autonomous community in Njaba local government area of Imo state were still reeling in shock and disbelief over the killing of a 26-year-old man, Awuzie Duru by a trigger-happy police inspector, Kelechi Chikwe. Duru, popularly known as Aboy, was allegedly shot by the police officer for retaliating when he was slapped during a melee inside a commercial bank branch at Umuaka, December 1. Meanwhile, Mrs Rose Duru Awuzie, mother of the deceased has bemoaned the loss of her son who had concluded arrangements for his marriage to a lady from Ngor-Okpala local government area before his untimely death. Mrs Duru lamented that her son, a tipper driver was hard-working and without any inclination to stealing, contrary to the allegations levelled against him by police officer. Orient Weekend gathered that Mr. Awuzie Duru was on December 1, 2019 shut dead at close range by inspector Kelechi Chikwe a native of Agwa, in Oguta local government area for allegedly querying the police officer. According to the reports, late Kelechi and his friend had visited a nearby ATM for financial transactions. However, little misunderstanding ensued at
the queue. however, rather than resolve the issue politely, Kelechi chose to use his gun. It was learnt that he first shot the victim on the leg before aiming at his waist, alleging that the young man was a criminal. Chikwe and Awuzie were immediately taken into their patrol van and driven to Umuaka divisional police command where he was detained. This paper gathered that it was not until Umuaka youths intervened, and threatened to burn down the station that they released the near-dead body of Awuzie to be taken to the hospital. It was learnt, he died hours later at the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri. Another source, however, disclosed that he had gone to the bank to withdraw money from the Automated Teller Machine and met a queue. “The boy took his space on the line and other newcomers took their places behind him. But after a while, Awuzie left the line to answer a call and when he returned to take his place on the queue, another customer behind him refused to let him back on the line. This led to a verbal confrontation. According to the witness, the policeman, who also witnessed the confrontation did not interfere until it degenerated into fight. “Soon after it turned physical, the policeman got involved and started scolding Awuzie. The boy then challenged the officer for refusing to do anything when they were simply exchanging words but wanted to scold him now that it has turned into a physical fight. On hearing this, the officer slapped Awuzie for talking back at him. As Awuzie retaliated by slapping the police
man, the officer angrily cocked his gun and shot him. This paper learnt that the killing stirred up tension in the town as irate youths reportedly mobilised to attack nearby police station until they were talked into allowing the police hierarchy handle the matter by elders of the town. One of the elders disclosed that, “The boys were not happy with the matter because the policeman killed the boy over an altercation. But some of us had to intervene because this kind of thing has happened here before about 15 years ago. On that occasion, some policemen caused the death of some people in Umuaka and our youths burned down the police station. So, we don’t want this kind of thing to happen anymore. Some of them are still planning to launch an attack, but we’re still appealing to them.” Imo state police commissioner, CP Rabiu Ladodo, who confirmed the incident said the command was doing everything possible to contain any further crisis that might arise from the incident. Ladodo also disclosed that the policeman involved had been arrested and will be punished, if found guilty. The Imo state police public relations officer, Orlando Ikeokwu also told this paper that the killer cop was in custody, contrary to speculations that he had fled. Ikeokwu, who also disclosed that investigation into the case was ongoing said the command did not want to act based on assumptions. According to him, a detailed investigation will determine what actually happened. The police spokesperson assured the residents of the state that nothing short of justice would be served.