Thursday 2 May 2019

FRSC Promotes 2 Officers Shot on Duty

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), on Thursday decorated two of its personnel serving in Enugu, who were promoted to their next ranks for their bravery and high level of commitment.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the two officers – Anya Nnachi and Chukwuemeka Ogbuja- were shot by security men attached to the Abia Speaker’s wife, while trying to ensure discipline along Abia-Port Harcourt road.

The incident happened in July 2017.

Mr Osadeba Osadebanwen, Enugu Zonal Commanding Officer of the FRSC, who decorated the officers with their new ranks in Enugu, said that the promotion was in recognition of their bravery in insisting on what is right in spite of the attack on them.

Osadebanwen also commended the Corps Marshal, Mr Boboye Oyeyemi, for paying the medical bills incurred by duo, and lauded Oyeyemi for the gesture he described as “encouraging”.

The Abia FRSC Sector Commander, Mr Menshak Jatau, in his remark, appreciated God for preserving the lives of the officers, and thanked the Corps Marshal for accepting the apology of the Abia State government over the matter.

Also speaking, Mr Kalu Ogbonnaya, FRSC Sector Commander for Enugu State, lauded the personnel for being steadfast and committed in spite of the incident.

One of the promoted personnel, Ogbuja, thanked the FRSC management, especially the Corps Marshal, for finding them worthy to be promoted, saying that the gesture was indeed encouraging.

NAN reports that Ogbuja was promoted from Road Marshal Inspector to Senior Road Marshal Assistant, while Anya Nnachi was promoted from Road Marshal Assistant 2 to Road Marshal 1. (NAN)

The incident happened in July 2017,  when police officers attached to the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Chikwendu Kalu, shot officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission while on patrol. Two FRSC officials were riddled with police bullet wounds during the incident on the Umuikaa/Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway, Abia State.

Photographic images of the injured FRSC officials in the media raise the question of police conduct and impunity on our roads. The really scary aspect of all this is that the FRSC operatives were unarmed.  If uniformed FRSC officials can be shot in cold blood for doing their job, then other ordinary citizens are really in deep trouble.

At the heart of the bloody incident is the wife of Kalu, the complicity of the police and the State Security Service. According to media reports, the wife of the Speaker, who was reportedly riding in an SUV, was stopped for traffic violation by FRSC officials. Instead of obeying the law, the security officials attached to her started brutalising the FRSC personnel. Some reports alleged that the Speaker’s wife also joined in the lawless act of beating up the officials.

The issue could have stopped there but when the Speaker was informed, he reportedly stormed the scene with his own police details, who he allegedly ordered to shoot at the FRSC officials, who, by then, were already seated in their patrol vehicle. The directive nearly cost these men their lives as their bloodied bodies showed. In the first place, should police officers obey the Speaker’s unlawful order to shoot at officials of the Nigerian government, who are not in any way criminals? Ruthlessly, the police reportedly removed the battery of the FRSC patrol car so that the injured victims would not be taken to the hospital.

In what has become a common occurrence, FRSC officials often come under undue assault in the line of duty.  In 2016, a road marshal, Segun Enikuemehin, who tried to plead with some military men to stop their assault on a civilian ended up with one of his eyes being plucked out from its socket. He was said to have successfully rescued the civilian and taken him to the police station. But on returning to the scene with policemen, the military men took offence and descended on him, completely damaging his eye.

In another incident in Calabar in January, Cletus Okune, a driver attached to the Cross River State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Peter Egba, was remanded in Afokang Prison in the city for allegedly assaulting two members of the FRSC. The commissioner, according to newspaper reports, was not in the vehicle when it was impounded for a number of traffic offences, including driving without fastening of seat belts. But, on arrival at the scene, Egba reportedly ordered his driver to assault them. “The commissioner later joined in the beating and also used a stone to injure a colleague in the head,” Fidelis Eteng, one of the victims, said. Egba denied ordering the assault. In 2013, there was another case in which nine operatives of the commission were arrested by a deputy commissioner of police on allegations of obstructing traffic on the Enugu-Abakaliki Road in Ebonyi State. Three operational vehicles belonging to the FRSC were also reportedly impounded, although the vehicles and the officials were later released.

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