A suspected fuel thief on Monday escaped being lynched by an angry mob in Port Harcourt after he threatened to kill a teenager who caught him in the act.
The suspect, who identified himself as Kenneth Eze, had warned the teenager not to raise the alarm or risk being killed.
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It was gathered that Eze had stolen the fuel from the Udi taxi park where a black marketer usually sold premium motor spirit (petrol) to commercial drivers.
The 17-year-old boy, who saw him from afar, had walked up to the fuel thief and asked him to take the loot back to the owner.
Rather than listen to the boy’s advice, Eze threatened that he was a member of a deadly cult group that would come after the teenager should anything happen to him (the suspect).
Not frightened by the suspect’s subtle and silent intimidation, the boy raised the alarm and a crowd gathered. The boy pointed at the 50 litres of petrol and accused Eze of stealing the item from the nearby taxi park.
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“The man (Eze) thought he could intimidate me by saying he was a member of a deadly cult group. I noticed he was not armed and I decided to raise the alarm,” the boy, who would not mention his name, told Southern City News.
The mob pounced on Eze, even as he pleaded for mercy, promising to turn a new leaf.
Not moved by his plea, the mob attempted to set fire to the suspect but he fled from Udi Street in Mile One, Diobu, where he was caught to Ikwerre Road.
Earlier, the suspect had told Southern City News he actually attempted to steal the fuel, but added that it was his first time to be involved in such an act.
“I am a driver and I have never stolen before. I wanted to take the keg of fuel away, but had to hide by the side of a car there when I saw the police coming. It was temptation and this is my first time of involving in this. If I lie, may I never see tomorrow,” the suspect swore.
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The owner of the stolen fuel later took away his property and thanked the boy for being smart enough to stop the thief.
Speaking with Southern City News, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ahmad Mohammad, warned against anybody taking the law into his hands.
Mohammad advised members of the public to always invite the police when they apprehend a suspect, adding that beating a suspect without taking him to the police station was against the law.