Awka - No fewer than 20 persons, including women and children, received various degrees of injury after policemen used tear gas to separate a fight between two persons in Awka on Saturday.
An eyewitness told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the incident occurred at Dike Park on Zik Avenue at about 3.30 p.m.
The source expressed surprise that the policemen who drove in a Hilux used tear gas to separate two persons fighting.
“I was in my shop with my children and all of a sudden I heard a gunshot and people started scampering for safety.”
“After that I perceived tear gas apparently shot by the police and by the time I realised what was happening, my daughter had fainted in the shop.”
“I had to take her away to resuscitate her because we could no longer bear the effect of the gas.”
“I wonder why the police would use tear gas to arrest a situation of that nature when it is not a riot situation,” the eyewitness said.
NAN gathered that trouble started when the two persons, a second hand phone seller and his customer, disagreed over the condition of phone being sold.
It was further gathered that the two fighters resorted to the use of dangerous weapons, including bottles, which prompted a standby traffic police officer to call the state police command to quell the situation.
“I think that the phone he bought had a problem and when he wanted to return it, the seller refused to collect it back,” another source said.
The eyewitness said that many people sustained injuries after the release of the tear gas close to the Eke-Awka market.
“It is an abuse of power by using tear gas in a market place just to separate a fight between two persons,” the eyewitness said.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Emeka Chukwuemeka, said he was not aware of the incident.
“There are situations that warrant the police to use tear gas. This is not one of them,” he said, adding that the state command would conduct an investigation into the incident.