Business and social activities came to a standstill for some hours in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State Capital, on Tuesday as foreign currency traders, otherwise known as Bureau de Change operators, staged a protest by blocking the busy Port Harcourt/Aba Expressway over the death of one of their members.
…Hausa/Fulani Community in Rivers State call for arrest and prosecution of Task Force men
Okafor Ofiebor/Port Harcourt
The forex trader allegedly died during a scuffle with the members of the Rivers State Task force on Street Trading, illegal Markets and illegal Motor parks.
It was learnt that officials of the Task Force had arrested the deceased by forcing him into their official vehicle and arraigned him before a mobile court for illegal street trading.
But it was gathered that the deceased slumped thereafter, and according to eyewitnesses, attempt by members of the Task force members to resuscitate him failed.
Angry colleagues of the deceased instantly took to the streets in protest by barricading the busy Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway, leading to a terrible traffic gridlock.
However, when contacted Mr Bright Amaewhule, the State Coordinator of the Task force denied that the members of the Taskforce beat the man to death.
“We have consistently cautioned them not trade on streets because they constitute nuisance and contravene law prohibiting street Trading but they remained adamant.
“My Officers who were assisted the Policemen attached to the Unit that is in charge of the Rumuola and Hotel Presidential axis arrested and charged him before the Mobile Court for illegal Street Trading . But due how frail looking he was,he was merely cautioned by the Court and members of Task force carried him back to meet his colleagues. He was not physically assaulted. After my men had left, about 15 minutes later the the news filtered that man slumped and died,” Amaewhule said.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Rivers State branch, has appealed for calm but called on the Police to arrest and prosecute the Task force officials involved in death of the man.
In press statement signed by the head of Communications, Asalemu Ibrahim, the Council assured that they will follow up the matter to ensure that the members of the Taskforce allegedly connected to the man’s death will be arrested and prosecuted.
Calm later returned to the area with intervention of the Police and other security agencies.