Hawker jumps to death in bid to avoid arrest from AEPB officials
A teenage hawker in Abuja on Friday lost his life while trying to avoid arrest by officials of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB).
Eyewitnesses said the unidentified young man, who was hawking beverages around the Bolingo Bridge Hotel in Abuja Central Business District joined others to run for safety on sighting an AEPB official vehicle.
However, in the bid to escape, the hawker fell from the bridge and remained unconscious and was rushed to the National Hospital, Abuja by a police patrol team passing by.
SP Adebayo Jogbojbo, a Police officer who witnessed the incident, told the News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) that "all the hawkers took to their heels when they sighted the vehicle but the boy decided to jump from the bridge.
"It was a fatal incident but the police have taken him to the National Hospital,’ he said.
A worker with the hospital, who refused to disclose his identity, told NAN that the boy was brought in dead.
"The boy was already dead when they brought him here and he has been taken away for burial; I believe he was a Muslim,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Joe Ukairo, AEPB Head of Media and Outreach Programmes, said that officials of the board did not pursue the hawkers.
"Whenever they sight our vehicles they take to their heels and that was what happened in this case.
"Hawking is illegal in the FCT and we urge all residents to obey that law and stop risking their lives unnecessarily,’’ he said.
Some residents of Abuja have condemned officials of AEPB over the incident.
Mr Tony Kanu, a civil servant, advised the board to be more humane in discharging its duties.
"Why should they continue to pursue innocent hawkers who are already on the run when they approach their location?
"This is a very wicked act and I hope government will take steps to ensure that it does not happen again,’’ he said.
Mr Daniel Ogedemgbe, another resident of Abuja, advised government to get alternative source of livelihood for hawkers.
"It is clear that these people take to hawking because they have no alternatives; government should create opportunities for them and stop pursuing them to their deaths,’’ he said.