There was outrage in Calabar on Friday afternoon when a truck owned by the Department of Public Transport an agency of the Cross River State Government, knocked down a street trader killing him instantly.
An eyewitness who witnessed the incident that happened at the Post Office axis of Calabar Road close to the popular Watt Market, said the ill-fated trader and father of five, identified as Michael, was knocked down on purpose.
It was gathered that the officials of the agency had asked Michael, who sold leather slippers by the side of the road, to take his wares away from the street and as he was trying to comply, he was knocked into the gutter by them.
After knocking him into the gutter, they started carrying his wares into their truck and as he came out he started begging them to release his goods.
It was gathered that he prostrated while begging, but the enraged officials rather ran him over with their truck, killing him instantly.
The incident sparked outrage and a mob immediately gathered, but the officials managed to escape with their truck.
The mob then marched with the corpse strapped to roof of a car from the scene of the incident to the office of the agency, close to the governor’s office, threatening to burn down the place.
They were however cordoned off by a deployment of police who had arrived to put the situation in check.
A senior police officer with a name tag that identified him as M. Horsefall led the team and he tried to pacify the mob.
Some people in the mob complained that the people have continuously been subjected to inhuman treatment by members of the agency, which has often led to injuries and sometimes death as was the case on Friday.
Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Irene Ugbo, confirmed the incident but said no arrests had been made yet.
No. We Were Attacked With Stones, Matchets – DOPT
Meanwhile, the Department of Public Transport has denied killing the trader. Rather, the agency accused the traders of attacking it staff who were on legitimate duty. In a release made available to newsmen late Friday evening, the agency sympathised with the family of the deceased.
“Operatives of the Department of Public Transportation, DOPT, while on operation on Friday afternoon to clear traders who have turned the median kerb and roadside at Watt Market to sales point came under attack while carrying out their legitimate duty by hoodlums and some traders.
The DOPT personnel were attacked with stones, sticks, machetes and other dangerous weapons with the intention of maiming then and destroying government vehicles. To avoid possible mayhem and to safe their lives, the operatives made to escape and in the ensuing confusion one person was accidentally knocked down leading to his death
This happened while Comrade Godwin Nyiam, the Director General of the department along with Rt Hon Eteng William Speaker of the Cross River House of Assembly were distributing certificates to drivers who had undergone refresher course organised by the Vehicle Inspection Unit of the department at the Ministry of Works.
The DG and entire DOPT sympathies with the family of the deceased. A panel has been set up to unravel and identify those behind the premeditated attack on the personnel of the department and those found culpable would be made to face the law.
Members of the public should support and encourage the DOPT in its effort to maintain sanity and free flow of traffic on our roads”