Tragedy struck in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital on Tuesday morning when three Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIOs) allegedly attacked and killed a top politician in the state, Chief Geoffrey Mgbada.
The incident happened along Ezza Road shortly after the Women Development Centre, just before Presco Junction.
According to sources, the deceased was driving with his wife in his vehicle before he was abruptly forced to stop by the officers.
He was said to have alighted from the vehicle before an altercation ensued which reportedly led to an attack on him. He was said to have been pushed and he hit his head on a concrete pavement. He reportedly went into a coma.
Speaking to newsmen at the Second Phase of the Accident and Emergency unit of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA 2), the son of the deceased, Mr Chijioke Mgbada, said that his father had been confirmed dead.
Chijioke said: “I was preparing to go to school, Ebonyi State University when my mother came in shouting. She was a kind of telling me that I should start going to teaching hospital; that my father was beaten to come by the VIO officers.
“When I got there, it was a different thing. To the contrary, my father was dead already. I am not with myself. You can see it. The government should ban VIOs and the person that did this should be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Until his death, Chief Mgbada was the Secretary of the Divine Mandate Elders’ Council; a member of the Abakaliki Capital Territory Development Board (ACTDA) and he was also said to be in law school in Enugu.
He was also the pioneer administrative secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the state; and indeed, notable personality in the state.
Confirming the incident, the Police public relations officer in the state, DSP Loveth Odah, said that the VIO officers had been arrested by the police.
“This morning I got a call that a man was allegedly killed by VIO officers and the incident was attracting so much crowd in the hospital. I quickly rushed to the hospital and to my greatest surprise; he was a highly placed man in society.
“His wife was not in the mood to talk but she said that the VIO stopped them but instead of going ahead to check their vehicle, they pushed her husband and he hit his head on the pavement”, she added.
Reacting to the incident, the state Commissioner for Border Peace and Internal Security, Dr Kenneth Ugbala, said that the activities of the group have been banned in the state and that accused persons would be tried for murder in the law court.
Ugbala said: “I could recall on 9th of July 2018, the activities of VIO were banned in the state following the accident that took a life along the Enugu-Abakaliki Expressway by Ukwuachi and they were accused of being responsible for it.
“And the state government banned them. And we banned their activities within Abakaliki metropolis. We asked them to take the highways under the supervision of the security agencies and since then we have been maintaining that”, he said.
Meanwhile, the State governor, Chief David Umahi has called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Chief Mgbada and prosecution of all persons involved in the dastardly act.
In a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Uzor, the governor, while distancing the state government from the VIO, said that for record purposes, he had proscribed all taskforce agents in the state during a town hall meeting with the people of the state.