Members of Edo State vigilante Network (ESVN) have reportedly clashed with bereaved Nigerians who were shot dead by one of its personnel in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the State.
63-year-old woman, Mrs. Lucy Nwaorie and 38-year-old Tony Bassey were allegedly murdered on May 20, 2021 by a vigilante member identified as Mr. Osagie Ufua also known as stone in Efehi Street, off College Road, Aduwawa in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of the State.
Fearing attacks by angry youths that could possibly lead to jungle justice, the murder suspect, Mr. Osagie turned himself into police custody after the tragedy.
In search of justice for the murdered Nigerians, on Monday, grieving family members embarked on a peaceful procession to police headquarters in Benin City, but they were attacked at an intersection of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) House road near the Edo State Secretariat of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the State Capital where they addressed the Press, becoming the the latest unrest over right to peaceful Assembly.
During the peaceful procession on Monday, about 20 armed vigilante personnel ambushed the mourners and ordered them not to unfurl the placards to draw public attention to their plights and suspend the peaceful procession.
As the tension escalated, a fight broke out between members of vigilante and the defiant mourners, prompting other curious Pedestrians and commuters who caught in the traffic snarl to intervene before the mourners were let-off the hook.
Addressing newsmen earlier at the NUJ Press Centre, Mr. Uche Nwaorie, eldest son of the mother of seven Children who hails from Enugu State, demanded for justice and called for a thorough investigation into the incident which he claimed was a planned attack.
“The alleged killer came to the shop without a gun. Immediately he arrived the shop, he (Osagie) ordered for bullets and his gun.
“He Osagie (stone) left where he was seated and sat at a very comfortable spot and gun down the two persons at the shop.
“What we are asking the Government is justice. We want the vigilante and others at large to be brought to justice”, he said.
The 30-year-old fatherless widow, Mrs. Blessing Bassey, told journalists that her late husband left home to buy recharge card at a shop around the area when the incident occurred.
“While I was preparing breakfast. I was bathing my our Child, suddenly, I headed that I he has been shot dead. I was surprised to see that he was dead.
“I am begging the Government and spirited individuals to assist me train my two months old baby”, she said.
On his part, Comrade Aigbogun Emmanuel who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said: “They were killed in front of their houses by a well known criminal, Stone, Osagie who is a member of Edo vigilante Network.
“They came to the victims shop. They started shooting and said that they want to warm the air, and in the process, the persons were shot.
“We want to tell the Government that these victims need support and justice.
“The Government should ensure that those criminals that they have engaged in the name of vigilante should be re-examined. Why should the Government be hiring a well known cultists and empower them with firearm.
“And the question that we are asking is that when they kill person, who will be held accountable? Because as we are talking now, is as if the Government is saying that he is not their member.
“But the man came there in a vigilante attire with a ESVN emblem to the store. Our hearts are filled with pains and sorrow.
“The young man went to buy recharge card at the shop when he was shot dead along with the owner of the shop.
“We want you to help us to cry this cry. You see vigilante now handcuff youths in the street because they do not belong to a confraternity. When the other side meet, they will also join to molest the other side.
“Edo State will soon be turned into a full flesh anarchy if the Government does not wake up to do the needful”, he pleaded.
Condemning the behaviour of some lawless vigilante members and residents in the State, former Attorney-General of the State and national President, Committee for the Defence of Human Right (CDHR), Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, called for an overhaul of the local security Network and a reorientation towards checking abuses.
He said: “Right now the vigilante are not been paid, they are turning into the police of old. They collect money from taxi drivers to circumvent justice. We support decentralisation of the police”.