Seven police officers of the Nigerian Police Force, Anthony Police Division in Lagos State are currently being questioned over a squabble that happened between them and fuel vendors at Ishaga junction in Surulere which ultimately led to the death of one of the fuel vendors.
The PUNCH reports that the police officers were claimed to have been extorting money and fuel from the group of vendors in exchange for being allowed the freedom to operate their roadside black market. There was however a disagreement between the vendors and the policemen on Thursday, July 2, 2015.
The disagreement quickly led to a fight which had three of the officers, who were not on uniform, pursue and shoot indiscriminately at some of the vendors into Orotedo street. In the process, one of the vendors identified as, Kamarudeen Olalude, was hit by a bullet below the waist.
In an attempt to fight back and defend their own, hoodlums in the area reportedly surrounded the police officers with weapons but was quickly laid to rest as members of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), were quickly on ground to stop the reprisal attack.
The victim was however quickly rushed to the Lagos Island General Hospital. Some residents were also reported to have been injured in different ways during the scuffle.
According to an eyewitness who did not want to be named, the victim had been shot because of the vendors inability to comply with the officers’ demands.
He said, “We usually settle them whenever they come here. We pay them between N10,000 and N20,000. We also give them fuel, and that is how we have been maintaining our relationship with them.
“Around 1pm on Thursday, they came and started making trouble with us. They chased some people into Orotedo Street and shot sporadically.
“Kamoru (Olalude) was hit and he screamed that he had been shot. He fell down and stood up again. He held to his waist and we all carried him.”
Another resident who gave his name as Owodunni stated that Olalude was not actually the target of the bullet.
He said, “There were three of them that chased one of the vendors into the street. While one policeman later turned back, the two others continued to pursue him.
“They were shooting and everybody started running around. The man they were chasing scaled the fence to another street, but one of the two men fired a shot which hit Olalude.
“Some people quickly closed their shops and went home, while others shut themselves in their rooms.”
Olalude’s friends were said to have quickly regrouped to confront the officers and that the situation would probably have deteriorated further if not for the timely intervention of the RRS.
According to another resident, “The other fuel vendors mobilised against the policemen. They told them they had no right to be in the area in the first place because it was not their jurisdiction.
“The men had bottles in their hand and they were about to strike when the RRS from Area C arrived and chased the vendors away.”
The victim was said to have first been rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba but was rejected due to the ongoing strike action by the Resident Doctors Association of the state before he was taken to the Island hospital where he was later admitted.
According to Idris Ganiyu, a relative of the victim, said that the family had already petitioned the authorities of the police on the matter.
He said, “We have already petitioned the Area C Police Command. Those policemen must be punished for the action. The bullet pierced through Kamoru’s waist and came out from the other side.
“We found a bottle of alcoholic drink mixed with weed in their van, which we believe was the reason they misbehaved that day; they were drunk.
“The Divisional Police Officer of the Surulere station was the one who ordered their arrest so that people would know they were not from his division.”
As at Tuesday, July 7, 2015, the state of the victim’s health had reportedly not improved. Although one of the victim’s friends, Olumide Alasi said that even though Olalude was still in the hospital that his condition was stable.
“We are not thieves or pipeline vandals. We are only trying to eke a living by selling fuel by the roadside. Please, help us beg the government to talk to this people to leave us alone,” he added.
Confirming the matter, DSP Kenneth Nwosu, Police Public Relations Officer, said that the seven policemen were on detention over the matter.
He said, “The policemen are being quizzed with a view to ascertaining what truly transpired. No effort will be spared to ensure that justice is done.”