Barely a week after some soldiers shot dead three police officers in Ibi, Taraba State, some military personnel attached to the 81 Division of the Nigerian ARMY have killed three residents of Isheri Olofin, a boundary community between Lagos and Ogun states.
Two of the deceased were identified as Damilare Adelani and one Tayese.
We gathered that trouble started on Monday when the community staged the ‘Isheri Day’, an annual carnival.
The soldiers were reported to have accompanied one Tiri, an indigene of the community laying claim to the Kara Market, to the festival.
Tiri was said to have been engaged in a supremacy battle with another powerful family in the community over the control of the market, which is a settlement in Ogun State along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, just before the Berger bus stop in Lagos State.
Some of the people at the festival reportedly resisted the soldiers, who attempted to make way for Tiri to pass in the midst of the crowd.
The issue was said to have degenerated to a free-for-all, as the soldiers, who were allegedly trying to protect their principal, opened fire on the residents.
While two persons were said to have died on the spot, another resident, identified as Adelani, who sustained gunshot injuries in the leg, was rushed to hospital.The soldiers were reported to have mounted a motorcycle and fled the scene.
However, some of the angry residents caught one of the soldiers, whom they assaulted by stoning him.
When the injured soldier’s colleagues rushed him to hospital, they met Adelani at the medical facility.
We learnt that the military men, who ordered the doctor at gunpoint to treat their colleague, dragged out Adelani and allegedly stabbed him to death with the bayonet of their guns.
When one of our correspondents visited the area on Wednesday, he observed that markets and shops were shut.
An eyewitness, who identified himself simply as Mukaila, said he fled his shop following continuous shooting by the soldiers on the carnival day.
Another resident, Jide, said some people, who fled the community since Monday night, had yet to return.
Jide said soldiers were still moving round the community.
He stated, “After the police shot the people, community youths captured one of the soldiers, who could not quickly jump onto their getaway motorcycle. The youth used stones and bottles to hit him on the head.
“When his colleagues rescued him and took him to hospital, they recognised one of the men they shot in the leg as being in the crowd that beat up the soldier. They dragged him outside and stabbed him to death.”
He claimed that the fight at the festival was caused by Tiri, who had a misunderstanding with another family in the community.
Jide added that Tiri wanted to use the festival to settle scores with the other party with the help of his soldier friends.
The brother to one of the deceased, Saheed Jimoh, said the 31-year-old Adelani was stabbed on his way to work.
He added that his brother was killed by the soldiers at the hospital, where he was receiving treatment.
“My brother worked as a private guard at OPIC; he was on his way to work when he was stabbed in the stomach. One of the soldiers also shot at him. When we rushed him to the hospital, the soldiers traced him there and killed him. We demand justice for his death,” Saheed said.
One of the survivors, simply identified as Adekunle, said he narrowly escaped death during the shooting, adding that he was hit by a bullet while he was urinating.
It was gathered that other survivors included the 32-year-old Ayobami Babatunde, who was shot in the stomach, and Rasheed Adeleke, who was shot in the leg.
However, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, Major Clement Abiade, said the military had no hand in the killings.
He noted that reports that soldiers perpetrated the killings were aimed at distracting the military operation at tackling insecurity in the area.
Abiade said, “For the avoidance of doubt and the need for clarity, the true situation is that the troops of the 81 Division, Nigerian Army, deployed for internal security in the general Kara area of Lagos, following a distress call, made a prompt intervention to forestall a bloody clash between the so-called ‘Isheri boys’ on Monday evening.
“The clash was reported to have started among the group members and culminated in lawlessness, anarchy and harassment of innocent citizens, who were supposed to be enjoying their Eid-el-Kabir holidays. The troops dispersed this group, who had constituted themselves into a public nuisance, and accordingly restored peace in the area.
“Sadly, one of our gallant soldiers got a machete cut in the head and was immediately taken to the Gentalbert Hospital for first aid treatment and was subsequently transferred to the Military Hospital. He is responding to treatment.
“Also reported was a stabbed civilian, who was brought to the same hospital by another civilian, while efforts were on to get doctors to attend to the injured soldier.”
The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, however, said the soldiers involved in the fracas had been declared wanted.
Oyeyemi explained that statements from eyewitnesses revealed that the soldiers dragged a resident out of the hospital, where he was being treated, and stabbed him to death with a bayonet.
He stated, “The Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, has ordered a full-scale investigation into the Isheri Day shooting incident in Ogun State on August 13, 2019, by suspected soldiers believed to be from the Ikeja Cantonment, with a view to bringing the suspects to justice.
“Credible information at the disposal of the command has it that on the said date, four men of the Nigerian Army, believed to be from the Ikeja Cantonment and posted to the Kara Market, left their beats and went to Isheri Olofin, a border town between Lagos and Ogun states, where the indigenes of the town were celebrating their annual Isheri Day.
“The soldiers, on getting there, had a minor disagreement with some youths, which made the soldiers to start shooting repeatedly into the air. Consequently, one of the victims was hit by bullets and he died on the spot. The ugly incident infuriated the people at the scene, who in turn reacted violently against the soldiers, leaving one of the soldiers and three civilians injured.
“The soldiers quickly took their injured colleague to a hospital, where they met one of the injured civilians being attended to by a medical doctor on duty.
“Statements from the officials of the hospital revealed that the soldiers ordered the doctor at gunpoint to leave the injured man and attend to their colleague. They then dragged the patient out of bed and subsequently stabbed him to death with a bayonet attached to the muzzle of one of their rifles.”
The PPRO said the command had contacted the military authorities in Ogun State and efforts were on to bring the suspected killer soldiers to justice.
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