Prince Francis Ephraim
A teargas canister shot by Operation Puff Adder, a team of policemen combating drug peddlers and hoodlums has allegedly set a thatched house on fire in Calabar.
The grass house located on 6, Murray Street off Target Road went up in flames after the police team in hot pursuit of hoodlums fired gunshots and launched teargas canisters sporadically around the street and one of the canisters fell on the roof of the thatched house and eventually set it on fire.
Prince Francis Ephraim, the owner of the house told Vanguard that the incident occurred in the morning of 13th December and has left him and his family of seven staying in the open.
"That early morning I wanted to go out but decided to prepare something to eat and when the food was ready I took it to the parlour to eat and suddenly there was a lot of firing by police and I heard a sound on the roof of my house, ‘kpem” and I came out and saw smoke coming out from the place the sound came from”.
He said when he went inside to get some water to put out the smoke he heard neighbours shouting “fire” “fire” and he rushed out to try to put out the fire but the flame only increased.
“Somebody brought a car and we drove to the fire service and we got there they said they have been informed of the fire outbreak and came with us and tried to put out the fire but did not have enough water to put it out”.
The distraught man said everything in the house was razed down and he was left with only the boxers and tee-shirt he was wearing while the children who had gone out at the time had nothing left. He narrated that he went to a local radio station, Hit Fm to tell them his ordeal.
One of the staff followed me to see what had happened and from there to the State Police headquarters where they met the Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations who on taking a look at the house asked” the Hit Fm reporter if he could call “this a house?”.
From there we went to see the DPO Atakpa and he invited the leader of the Puff Adder team and the men expressed empathy with what had happened and said the team will on its own do something since waiting for the federal government will take time.”
He said the DPO asked him to see him the next day and when he got there the man asked for the teargas canister and when he refused to hand it over, the DPO said “it will not be well with me”.
Prince Ephraim said non of the hoodlums the police was after took refuge in his house neither had he anything to do with drugs and could not understand why the police fired at his house. DSP Irene Ugbo, the Cross River Police Command did not pick her calls.