There is tension in Itigidi, headquarters of Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State, following the murder of a mortician, Mr. Isong Nkanu, by anti-riot policemen who had gone to maintain peace in the community.
It was learnt on Tuesday that a detachment of anti-riot policemen were sent to the community to maintain the peace following threats by some youths to burn down the Itigidi Police Station on Monday.
The threat was sequel to the invitation of three village chiefs and a youth leader by the Police for questioning over the death of a cow that was shut by an unknown person in October 2017.
Following the detention of the two community leaders, some infuriated youths in Itigidi were said to have embarked on a protest to press for the release of their four leaders that honoured the invitation.
A resident of Itigidi, Mr. Raymond Egbe, said the slain Nkanu, popularly known as “Isong No Joke”, was killed when the policemen tried to disperse the protesters.
Egbe said, “The chiefs and our youth leader honoured the police invitation as law abiding citizens, but they were detained when they got there. This infuriated the entire community, which led to the peaceful demonstration.
“The youths only went on the protest without any weapon or fire arm. They only went to register their grievances over the arrest of the custodians of tradition and culture of the people. For the fact that they honoured the invitation in their capacity, shows they have respect for constituted authority.
“While they were protesting, one of our community leaders, identified as Isong, was shot dead by police. To be honest with you the matter was politicised. If not, we do not see any reason why a matter concerning a cow that was shot dead in October 2017 will suddenly come up now.
“They are claiming that herdsmen reported the matter, but the herders are not even domiciled in this area. It was a demonstration, we did not attack any policeman neither did we burn down any part of the police station.
“It will interest you to know that the building that houses the Itigidi Police Station is a rented apartment belonging to an Itigidi man. So, there is no way the place could have been burnt down as being insinuated.”
When contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Irene Ugbo, confirmed the incident.
She said, “The herdsmen complained some months ago that indigenes of the Itigidi community killed their cow. On that strength, we invited the community leader in order to make peace, unfortunately the youths in the community read a different meaning to the invitation of their community leader.
“They became restive and threatened to burn down the Itigidi Police Station. There was intervention by the police and in the process, one person died. As of Tuesday the place has become calm.”