In a bid to ferry stolen petrol out of a community in Imo, Nigerian soldiers have allegedly killed a man and injured another.
The stolen petrol tradition is usually referred to as “asari”.
The petrol, sources say, was illegally refined and was being transported out of Assa, a community in Ohaji/Egbema council area, when local youths mounted a blockade and demanded a “passage fee”.
But the armed soldiers who were guardiing the “looted” fuel were said to have prevented the alleged oil thief from paying the demanding youths.
As things began getting out of hand, the soldiers fired live rounds to scare the youths away, sources say. One of the bullets, it is alleged hit and killed a certain Chinedu. He was a 45-year-old petty trader.
The incident, which happened at Afor Assa market square on Wednesday night, has since caused serious tension in the area.
“On seeing the dead body of the man, the soldiers ran away with the truck driver leaving the ‘asari’ truck behind,” a source told The Nation.
“The youths set the truck with its content ablaze.
“The dead body is yet to be deposited at the mortuary. The victim was said to be an indigene of Amafor who is resident in Umuopara Obosa to be precise.
“At present, the night is calm, road deserted and dry. People were forced to confine themselves to their houses for fear of the unknown”.
Another youth was reportedly injured during the chaos after Assa traditional leader Eze Emmanuel Assor said his people were talking with military hierarchy to ensure lasting peace in the area.
“We are in talks with the military,” he told The Nation.
“We want to make sure that such a thing does not happen again and there is a lasting peace. We are also working to ensure that there is a lasting peace between both parties.”
The army’s 34 Artillery Brigade Command spokesperson Babatunde Zubairu denied knowledge of the incident, The Nation reported.
But state police spokesperson Orlando Ikeokwu confirmed the killing of the 45-year-old petty trader.
He said the soldiers were not accompanying the persons carrying the locally refined crude oil.
He said the soldiers arrested them and were taking them to the military base in the community before the youths intercepted them.
Ikeokwu said it was in a bid to ward off the youths, who became violent, that the soldiers shot into the air before a bullet unfortunately hit the victim.
He said that a police detachment was drafted to the scene to restore normalcy.