THERE was pandemonium in Port Harcourt on Tuesday when an unidentified trader, who was allegedly arrested by the Rivers State Task Force for Street Trading and Illegal Motor Parks was brought back unconscious.
However, the trader reportedly died later.
The incident was said to have sparked a protest in the Hausa community in the city over the alleged killing of their colleague.
The angry protesters blocked the Presidential Hotel area of the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway at about 3.30pm to express their displeasure following the death of their friend, whose identity had yet to be ascertained.
The founding father of the Association of Northern Traders, Port Harcourt Branch, Lawal Daura, alleged that task force officials arrested the victim and returned his lifeless body few minutes later.
Daura said the victim was a gold collector, who only visited his friends near Presidential Hotel and was standing along the road when he was picked up by the task force.
He said, “I was not around when the incident happened, but when I came back, I was told that task force officials came and arrested an elderly man who visited our people here. He was arrested around Presidential Hotel.
“They took him inside their vehicle, drove away and after 10 to 20 minutes, he was brought back and at the end of the day, the man died. That was why our people protested against what the task force did.”
A commercial bus driver, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a taxi driver, who attempted to evade arrest hit the victim who was standing by the roadside and killed him.
One of our correspondents, who visited the scene of the incident, saw many police officers at strategic locations, ostensibly to forestall any breach of the peace.
Spokesman for the police in the state, Nnamdi Omoni, said, “Somebody died today at the Rumuola area of Port Harcourt.
“There was an uproar, but our people went there to restore calm.
“The Commissioner of Police has ordered an investigation into the incident.
“The investigation will unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the man and also bringing the perpetrators to justice.”
However, the chairman of the task force, Bright Amaehwule, failed to respond to one of our correspondents’ calls, while a text message to his phone was also not replied to as of the time of filing this report.