A businessman, identified only as Felix, aka Tiger, and two other yet-to-be-identified traders have been shot dead by military officers during a clash with union members and traders at the Aguiyi Ironsi International Trade Centre, in the Paramo area of Ladipo Market, Lagos State.
PUNCH Metro gathered from witnesses that a military officer and his orderly visited the market on Tuesday to change the spare part he bought from a trader.
On their way out, some union members, who were at the entrance of the market, reportedly demanded payment of N200 from them for gate pass.
It was learnt that the request infuriated the military men and in the process, an argument ensued between them and the union members.
A source in the market told our correspondent that the union members allegedly beat the military man and his orderly, adding that the soldiers mobilised three other personnel, who allegedly shot the victims to death.
The trader said, “What happened was that a military man came with his orderly in the morning to change a spare part that he bought from a trader in the market since last week. He came to change it because it did not work, but the military man did not wear his uniform when he came into the market.
“When he was leaving, the union boys at the entrance of the gate told him to pay N200 for gate pass. But because he refused to pay, it turned into a fight and the boys beat the military man and his orderly. So, he went back to his base, returned with three other boys and everywhere scattered as they started shooting.
“About three people have been killed; in fact, a trader, Felix, aka Tiger, whose shop is located on my line, was part of the people that were killed by stray bullets. Felix was carrying his goods into his shop during the fracas when a stray bullet hit him.
“We quickly rushed him to the hospital, but he died on the way. The incident happened around 1pm, but the military man came to the market around 9am.”
However, the Director, Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Airforce, Edward Gabkwat, who gave another version of the story, said a soldier and his civilian friend were in the market for debt collection from a trader when a fight broke out between the soldier and the debtor.
He said, “It was a matter of self-defence; it was purely a domestic matter that went south. A soldier and a civilian friend went to the market for debt collection, whether the debt was for the soldier or civilian, we don’t know. But in the process, a fight ensued between the soldier and the alleged debtor, and the debtor and other civilians pounced on the soldier.
“So, the friend of the soldier ran out to seek help and sighted a vehicle of the Operation MESA, and called their attention to the attack on the soldier. They ran to the scene of the incident, and when they got there, they were confronted by angry traders and civilians in the market, who started throwing stones at them.
“I understood that they collected the rifle of the air force personnel under Operation MESA, and the same soldier, who was under siege by the traders, snatched the rifle back, and was running toward the air force people, but opened fire because he was under threat.
“It was an unfortunate situation. It wasn’t as if it was the air force men that opened fire, but the rifle, which belongs to the air force personnel, has been retrieved. I understand one or two people died, but it is unconfirmed. Our base commander has been told to get to the root of the matter.”
Court Sentences Dismissed Sergeant to Death by Hanging for Killing Driver over N100
A High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, has sentenced a dismissed police sergeant, James Imhalu, to death by hanging for the murder of a commercial driver in 2015 over his refusal to pay a bribe of N100.
Justice Elsie Thompson, while delivering her judgment, said evidence before the court showed that the sacked sergeant intentionally fired a shot at the commercial driver, Legbara David, at Whimpey Junction, Port Harcourt.
Justice Thompson described Imhalu as a serial trigger-happy policeman who should not be allowed to remain in the society.
The prosecution counsel, Kingsley Briggs, said the judgement would serve as succour to the deceased’s family.
“Although the will of justice grinds slowly, surely justice will come.
“For the family of those that lost their breadwinner, it is quite unfortunate. But I believe this judgement will serve as succour to the family,” he stated.
On his part, a representative of the Legal Aid Council in Rivers State, who defended the sergeant, Mr Awaji, said his team would study the judgement to know the next line of action.
He said, “Today’s judgement I will say is justice for the people of Rivers State.
“Despite the fact that I represented the defendant, my analysis of the case when I came into the matter, I would say, I saw it coming.
“Having listened to the judgement, currently, there is no plan to go on appeal. But by the time we look at the judgement in-depth, perhaps we will find grounds for appeal. But as it is, there is no plan to go on appeal.”
LASTMA Denies Involvement in Burning of Bus, Warns Against Attack on Personnel
The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has denied reports making the rounds that its personnel were involved in the burning of a bus at the Obanikoro bus stop, Ikorodu Road. The Authority, while asking residents to desist from attacking LASTMA officials, stated that the report was the handiwork of an uninformed blogger.
Buttressing the facts of the matter in a statement signed by the Asst. Director, Public Affairs, Filade Olumide, and made available to the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP), the Authority hinted that “LASTMA Management after due diligence on the video, sympathise with the vehicle owner, but categorically deny complicity of any of its officers in the incidence portrayed on the video” while regretting that “…one of the LASTMA patrol officers offering helping hand with the burning vehicle was severely injured by uncalled-for mob action which seems to be occurring nowadays at the slightest alarm.”
The statement also condemned the shallow portrayal of the allegation as the picture evidence did not depict the allegation against its officials.
“The video report lacked pictorial evidence of LASTMA officers’ complicity; those interviewed were neither eye witnesses nor people directly involved in the incident, rather, they were people living within the inside street, close to the scene of the incidence on Ikorodu Road. Their evidences were hear-says’ and limited to after the arrival of security agencies officials to maintain law and order, after attacks on one of the LASTMA officials and also the Fire Fighters that were there to render assistance in putting out the fire in the vehicle,” the statement read.
It added that:
“LASTMA officials do not operate within side street and over time, the State Government has announced zero tolerance to attack on its officials while performing their duties as enshrined in the laws or as directed.
“We wish to reiterate that LASTMA personnel must not be attacked/assaulted while performing their duties or rendering service to the public.
“The LASTMA management also use this opportunity to advise reporters/bloggers to endeavour to conduct proper investigation and present facts rather than sentiments in their reportage for a peaceful and orderly society.”
Ondo Amotekun Arrests Suspected Masterminds of Owo Church Massacre
The Ondo State Security Network Agency, codenamed “Amotekun Corps” has confirmed that some suspects have been arrested in connection with the terrorist attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo.
The suspected terrorists invaded the church on June 5, killing no fewer than 40 people and injuring many other worshippers.
The state Commander of Amotekun, Adetunji Adeleye, on Thursday said some suspects had been arrested in connection with the killing.
He stated this while parading some 71 men who were arrested for various criminal activities across the state.
The Amotekun boss said, “As regards the Owo incident, we have recovered the last vehicle they used for that operation and we made some arrests, and we have also recovered some vital things which we are working on.
“A number of people have been arrested concerning the Owo issue as well as a number of equipment. On that day, we pursued them to the point that we recovered the vehicle and we are still pursuing them. We have told you that until we get to the root, I can assure you that the perpetrators and their sponsors will be brought to book.”
On the 71 suspected criminals paraded at the headquarters of the command in Akure, the state capital, Adeleye explained that the suspects were arrested within the last one month for various offenses ranging from armed robbery, cattle rustling, kidnapping, raping, fraud and human trafficking.
“The 71 suspects were picked while committing offences and others were tracked to their hideouts in the forests. We have been able to get a cartel that specialises in stealing and dismantling motorbikes which we all know as okada. Also, we were able to recover over 50 bikes during the operation from these criminals.
“We also got reports from some herdsmen that their cattle were stolen. We went after them and brought the cows back to the Fulani herdsmen that owned the cow. We have a group of small boys who are under 18-year old that turned themselves into a cartel of criminals in a particular local government in Ondo State and armed themselves. They actually belong to a cult group called ‘Agbado’. We were able to arrest 12 out of the 17 members.
“We have about three to four suspected kidnappers and we intend to take most of these suspects, especially the ones we have concluded their investigations to the DPP and for their onward prosecution in court.”
He assured the people of the state that the corps would not rest on its oars until it rids the state of criminal elements, saying, “there is no hiding place for them. They turned the heat on us and we have also turned the heat on them.”