By Nick Chibunna
Hard times, grudge and resentment among residents of Owerri, capital of Imo State, manifested at the weekend when a vehicle inspection officer (VIO) and three other staff members of the state licensing authority were nearly lynched while they were carrying out their duties.
The VIO and his colleagues were said to have been on routine check of vehicles and traffic when the incident occurred.
According to an eye witness, the officers had apprehended a Toyota Saloon car, driven by a youth corps member, Mr. Chimezie Ebo, accusing him of violating a one-way traffic law at Uratta Street / Wetheral Road.
The youth corps member, reports said, denied the offence, arguing that he was only making a turn on Wetheral Road.
It was alleged that the officers stuck to their guns, insisting that the vehicle would be taken to Hero’s Square, New Owerri, where a large sum of money was needed to retrieve it.
The officers, according to reports, demanded a certain amount of money from the corps member who refused to do their bidding.
In the ensuing altercation, one of the officers allegedly hit the corps member on the head with a club and he slumped.
This attracted the attention of an angry crowd that gathered and chased the officers who took to their heels.
The VIO was, however, held by the crowd and rough handled. He was forced to ride to a nearby hospital with the corps member in coma when a good-spirited person offered to save the corps member from dying.
The crowd surged to the hospital, insisting that the VIO would die if the corper dies. Fortunately, he was revived.
Another drama ensued at St. David’s Hospital Ikenegbu where the victim was taken to, as the mob again came to the hospital to attack the V.I.O, which made him to run for safety pleading with the mob to have mercy on him.
When Christian Voice called at St David’s Hospital Ikenegbu Owerri, the victim was seen at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital where doctors were battling to resuscitate him.
According to Dr Chidi Mbatuegwu, the victim was suffering from intermittent consciousness occasioned by severe injury in the head, adding that he was under observation for 24 hours.
Christian Voice also learnt that a formal report was made to the Imo State Police following the advice of the hospital authority as a way to rescue the V.I.O. from the hands of the mob who were waiting outside to administer a baptism of fire on the V.I.O. if the victim dies.
Impeccable source told Christian Voice that detectives from Crime Investigation Department (CID), Imo State Police Headquarters later came and whisked the V.I.O. away in hand cuff.
The father of the victim was too shocked to speak to Christian Voice. He only raised his hands towards heaven and prayed for divine intervention and speedy recovery of his son.