Before she met her untimely death in April 2020, Lovender Elekwachi had served the Nigeria Police Force for 13 years.
Her journey to the police started on July 1, 2007, when she was recruited. She had risen to the rank of a sergeant and was due for a promotion in 2020 but a fellow officer terminated her life.
Lovender was on duty as a traffic warden at the Eneka Roundabout in Port-Harcourt, South-south Nigeria, when she was shot dead by a fellow officer identified as Bitrus Osaiah, also a sergeant.
The 35-year-old mother of one was on duty around 2 p.m. when members of the Rivers State Taskforce on Road Decongestion, Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks arrived to disperse traders around the roundabout.
Sergeant guns down sergeant
The date was April 23, 2020. Then, the Rivers State Government had just announced a closure of all markets in the state and later a total lockdown due to COVID-19.
Soon, the enforcement led to harassment of some traders much to the dissatisfaction of Lovender. Many witnesses who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES said Lovender left her post and attempted to pacify police officers, who accompanied the task force members, to stop carting away the traders’ goods. This move was rebuffed irritably by Osaiah. He reportedly opened fire. Moments later, Lovender dropped dead.
She died about ten metres away from a shop belonging to Udoka Luke, a generator repairer. Luke had abandoned his work to watch the whole episode unfold that afternoon.
“That day, there was task force packing people’s load over here,” he said. “Everybody was on the run, all the people that sell at the roadside, all of them ran away. Later, those boys that stand (stood) at the side of the road, those agberos (illegal traffic managers), were the ones that start(ed) using coke bottles to throw at the police and the task force.