Violence broke out in Onitsha, Anambra State, yesterday after a policeman shot dead a bus driver who refused to pay a N20 tip, heightening ethnic tensions in the commercial city. Hoodlums and bus drivers took to the streets protesting the killing of the driver, setting up bonfires along the streets and targeting shops. The violence soon took an ethnic dimension when some of the rioters targeted northern communities in the city, forcing them to flee to police and military bases in Onitsha and in neighbouring Asaba, Delta State.
Witnesses said trouble started when a coaster bus, which took off from the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) Junction along Awka Road, came to a police checkpoint along New Market Road. At the checkpoint, a policeman demanded N20 tip but driver Edwin refused to give him, according to conductor of the bus Samuel Ekwueme. “The policeman stopped my Oga at ABS junction demanding for N20 bribe, but he beat the checkpoint. But as we were going down to Ose main market, he noticed that the policeman took a commercial motorcycle and followed us,” the conductor said. “And when he (the deceased) noticed that the policeman was following us, he tried to follow the one-way through New Market road but the policeman followed us and shot at the tyre of the vehicle, and we stopped. Then he came to the door and shot Edwin at a close range in the neck,” he said.