Ikechukwu Anigbo, a barber who was said to have been mistaken for a robber, is the latest victim of mob attack in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He was beaten, killed and burnt around a popular relaxation centre in Apo, Abuja.
When Chukwudi Orji bade his friend, Ikechukwu Anigbo, good bye as he left the relaxation centre, he never knew, that was the last time he would be speaking to him.
30 minutes after Ikechukwu left the spot, Orji received news of violence involving some motorcyclists, but he brushed it aside. Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that it was when Orji got home at about 11p.m, that he learnt that his friend, Anigbo was the victim of the violence.
“I saw the fire, but I did not know that someone was inside. There was smoke everywhere; there was no way you would have known that there was someone in the fire, except you were there or somebody told you about it,” he said.
The fair skinned man, who was in his early 30s and from Aku in Enugu State, is a victim of jungle justice, but his friends insist that he was a barber, making an honest living. They maintained that he was killed out of sheer wickedness.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that a quarrel had ensued between Anigbo and the owner of a motorcyclist over N10 “change,” he was supposed to have collect after paying his fare.
None of the motorcyclists, traders, hawkers and guards at the old London Lane, where the incident occurred agreed to speak to our reporter, but it was alleged that during the quarrel, the motorcyclist attracted his colleagues to the scene by shouting “thief”.
The mob that gathered following the alarm collected tyres from a vulcanising workshop near the scene and set the deceased on fire, said Ezema Virginus Chukwudike, the taskforce chairman of Abuja Spare Parts Dealers Association, Apo.
He described the death as one too many, adding that the excesses of motorcyclists in satellite towns within the territory need to be curbed.
Chukwudike, popularly known as Oracle of God, said “when news of the incident spread, people became angry. They wondered why the motorcyclists would burn an innocent man. Even the man who volunteered to carry the corpse after he had been killed, was chased away.”
He said this is not the first time that motorcyclists are killing someone over a paltry sum of money.
“A similar thing happened in Kabusa, when a boy was stabbed because of change. Another man was killed on Wumba road. The same change issue led to the death of a man in Damagaza. In his case, after he was killed, they kept him near a river until the next day,” he said.
Chukwudike said the last time such an incident occurred in the area, the traders protested and that it took the intervention of riot policemen to bring the situation under control.
He added: “Because the motorcyclists knew what they did, they boycotted this route from Sunday evening until policemen were deployed to the area.”
Azeez Akinola, Anigbo’s boss at the barbershop, corroborated Chukwudike story, saying the attitude of motorcyclists in the area is a cause for concern.
Akinola who lives around the area where the late Anigbo lived, said he and two other people rushed out of their houses when they received news of the incident, but that the motorcyclists at Kabusa junction refused to take them to the scene.
Akinola who had worked with Anigbo for more than four years in a small barbershop at NEPA Junction, Apo, said it took them a longtime to find a motorcycle to convey them.
He said when they arrived the scene, they saw several people with sticks, but that they did not understand the magnitude of what had happened until someone pointed to the corpse of Anigbo in the fire.
“I could not believe it. There were heaps of iron treads from the burnt tyres on his body,” Akinola fought back tears as he shared his experience.
Orji, who was with him at the garden before the incident, said he has not been able to get over the incident.
“If I had known about it on time, I would have tried to save him because he was innocent,” he said.
Jonathan Okwe, who said he also left the relaxation spot at about 11p.m, on the day the incident occurred, said he was shocked to see human legs in a fire by the roadside.
He added that there were several motorcyclists around the scene and that he had to quickly found his way out of the area. “The boy was fair and handsome,” he said.
Akinola on his part continued; “He was very gentle’’. Speaking in Pidgin, he said, “if small wound touch am, he go treat am for more than one week.”
“I.K. can’t ride a bicycle, talk less of motorcycle. Because of fear, he refused to learn driving despite the fact that they were many people around to teach him,” he said.
He said the matter was reported at the Apo Police Station, where he wrote a statement before police officers took the corpse to a mortuary.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the FCT police command, ASP Anjuguri Manzah said, “there was an early morning disagreement between two opposing groups that could have resulted in a clash but it was averted by the timely intervention of anti-riot police personnel.”
Manzah said the FCT Commissioner of Police, Wilson Inalegwu, warned people of the area to desist from violence at the wake of the disagreement and promptly deployed police officers to the scene.
The commissioner assured residents of the area and other parts of FCT that adequate measures have been deployed to contain the situation, investigate and unravel the remote and underlying issues behind the upheaval.
He reiterated that any attempt to jeopardise the existing peaceful and serene atmosphere in the Federal Capital Territory will not be tolerated.
Though normalcy has returned to the area, the relative peace enjoyed may not last for long if a lasting solution is not proffered.
Chukwudike said government should stop motorcyclists from arming themselves with daggers. “Why should government allow them to move around with daggers unchallenged?” he asked.
There are several versions of the incident, while some insist that the late Anigbo did not commit any crime, some alleged that he attempted to snatch the motorcycle he rode to the junction but was overpowered by the motorcyclists. However, it is hoped that the police through their investigation will be able to give a clearer picture of what actually transpired.
….. Kumbi Bello
With additional reports from Sunday Trust