Two residents and a policeman have been confirmed dead in a clash between Gwari people and some policemen in the Lapai Local Government Area of Niger State.
A trigger-happy policeman and some youths were said to have been detained for the bloody crisis.
punch metro learnt that trouble started around 5pm on Friday when a car conveying a newly-married couple returning from their wedding in Gwada, was flagged down by policemen at a checkpoint at Gulu Junction, Lapai.
An account of the incident stated that the trigger-happy policeman opened fire on the car after the driver refused to give him and his colleagues a bribe.
A resident, who gave his name only as Ismail, told our correspondent on the telephone that the bullet hit one of the occupants of the car, who died on the spot.
He said, “There was an argument between the Gwari men and the policemen at the checkpoint. They asked for money from the driver, but he refused to give them. While the car left the checkpoint, one of the policemen opened fire on it and an occupant was shot. They were returning from the wedding of a newly-wed couple.
“The Gwari people mobilised and returned to the checkpoint. The policemen abandoned their patrol van and fled on sighting them. They burnt the van and chased the policemen into the bush. Eventually, a policeman was found dead in the bush.
“The police called for reinforcement and they went to Kuta town where the Gwari people live. They killed another Gwari man. I learnt that the policeman that shot at the car had been detained. The situation is calm now.”
Another resident, Lukman Saidu, confirmed Ismail’s account, but stated that three Gwari people were killed.
“There was confusion everywhere. The situation was brought under control with the intervention of the Emir of Lapai,” he added.
However, one Toktee, who wrote about the incident on a social media platform,
Nairaland, claimed that the policemen requested the particulars of the car, which the driver provided.
Toktee stated that the driver became frustrated when the policemen asked for his driving licence and he could not present it.
“It all started yesterday (Friday) around 5pm when some Gwari people were coming back from a wedding with Ameria (wife) and Ango (husband) in the same car. When they got to Lapai, heading towards Saminanka Road, they came face to face with the men in black (the police) who mounted a roadblock in front of their station, GRA Police Station.
“The police asked the driver to produce the particulars of the vehicle which he obliged them. The police asked for the driving licence which the driver said he didn’t have. At this point, everybody in the vehicle was frustrated. That was when the driver dashed back into the car and said, ‘I came all the way from Kuta to Gwada, through Minna; no one harassed us; they only wished us happy marriage. I am going.’”
“The police said ‘if you move, I will fire you,’ the driver zoomed off and climbed the wood that was used to block the road. That was when hell was let loose. Ratatata…the sound of an AK-47; the car went slow and a young man in his late 20s dropped out of the car dead,” he said.
Toktee explained that the victims called their people on the telephone and within an hour, they arrived with 20 litres of fuel, headed for the police station and set the patrol vehicle ablaze.
“While others were on their way to set the station ablaze, the gunfire resumed. While the police were firing, the Gwari people were advancing towards the station. Within 20 minutes, a police officer lay dead. At this point, the reinforcement of army and SARS arrived from Minna, Niger State capital, and the sound of gunshot continued. It took the intervention of the Emir of Lapai to prevail on the Gwari people,” he added.
The Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Muhammed Abubakar, denied that the policemen demanded a bribe, adding that investigation had commenced into the incident.
He said, “The policeman that shot the gun is in custody. One of the ringleaders is in custody too. Two residents and a policeman died. Four of our men were also shot at the station and they are receiving treatment. Some of the guns used by the hoodlums have been recovered. Meanwhile, investigation is ongoing.”
This news was first seen in punch newspaper