An alleged killing of a yet-to-be identified civilian by a soldier in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, yesterday morning, has ignited mass protest by hundreds of irate youths.
Our correspondent reported that pandemonium broke out at the West End area of Maiduguri metropolis, around 11a.m., when hundreds of aggrieved youths took to the streets to protest the ‘extra-judicial’ killing of an innocent civilian by one of the soldiers attached to a nearby military post.
The incident has caused serious traffic jam and scuttled vehicular movements for over two hours, as the angry youths barricaded several major roads and burnt used tyres.
Witnesses said trouble started after a soldier stationed at the nearby security check-point has allegedly targeted a tricycle operator, popularly known as Keke NAPEP. The Keke NAPEP operator was reported to have unknowingly drove through a ‘no-go-area’, which was blocked by the military for security reasons.
It was further learnt that the ‘killer’ soldier fired a shot but missed the target; instead, the bullet hit a kolanut seller seated opposite to the military post, who died on the spot.
Some youths present at the scene of the incident became angry and mobilised several others for the demonstration when the soldier who fired the shot, openly depended his action.
“The soldier was not in any way remorseful over the killing of the innocent man and this angered the youths who mobilized to the scene.
It was also gathered that immediately after the incident, the youths chased away the soldier and his colleagues from the area.
However, sources said the soldiers were not chased away; rather, the shooter was assaulted and nearly lynched by the youths before being rescued by his colleagues, who sneaked him out of the area.
“If not for the quick response of his fellow soldiers, he would have lynched, but was seriously beaten and sustained some injuries on his head and eyes”, a witness, who declined identification, told our correspondent on phone.
The incident has created tension in and around the area, as major roads, which included Baga, Post Office, Shehu Laminu and Custom area, were blocked for several hours and motorists and other road users were compelled to turn back and drive through another route.
When the situation was getting out of hand, with the protest almost turning violent, dozens of soldiers, backed by armored vehicles were drafted to the area and fired warning shots into the air, apparently to disperse the crowd.
However, the demonstrators defied the horrifying sounds of the shots fired from the armored vehicles, even as they threw stones at the military.
When hundreds of stones being thrown at the soldiers continued and became unbearable for the soldiers, they were forced to quickly withdraw from the scene.