Motorcycle drivers on Thursday shut down the Ijegun Road in the Alimosho area of Lagos State, after a woman, Idongesit Ekpo, and her husband, Godwin, were shot by a team of policemen attached to the Isheri Osun Police Division.
While Idongesit died on the spot, Godwin was said to be in a critical condition at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where he was taken for treatment.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the couple was returning from a church programme on Wednesday in a tricycle belonging to the family.
Our correspondents were told that Godwin met a police checkpoint at Obalagbe bus stop, where some other tricycle drivers were being reportedly extorted by an eight-man police team.
He was said to have been flagged down by one of the policemen, but as he sped past, one of the officers shattered his windscreen with a baton.
A police corporal, identified as Aremu Musesiu, was said to have opened fire on the tricycle.
It was learnt that the bullet pierced through the tricycle back side and hit Idongesit, who was breastfeeding a three-month-old baby.
Her husband, Godwin, who looked back when the shot was fired, was said to have also been hit in the neck.
The policemen were said to have hurriedly taken money from the tricycle drivers they had earlier detained, before fleeing the scene.
Tricycle drivers in the community trooped out on Thursday to protest the death and demanded justice for the victims.
The protesters held placards, some of which read, ‘Isheri Police, your generation will suffer,’ ‘Stop killing us,’ among others.
The protest train went to the Isheri Osun Police Station, where they met a team of armed policemen in more than six vans. An Armoured Personnel Carrier was also mounted on the road to the station.
The Financial Secretary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Lagos State branch, Chinanzor Ifechiga, was brutalised and her telephone seized by the Divisional Police Officer.
Ifechiga, who was accused of filming the protest and taking pictures, was manhandled by eight policemen, who struggled to take the phone from her on the order of the DPO.
The protesters left the station for Ijegun Road, where they ordered other tricycle operators to cease work.
Six police vans packed full with policemen from Idimu, Igando, Ikotun, Gowon Estate and Isheri Osun divisions, were observed by our correspondents on the road.
A tricycle driver, Henry Chibuzor, said the couple was shot at around 10pm on Wednesday.
He said, “I was going home around 10pm when I saw the eight-man team asking me to stop at a checkpoint. I was there with four other tricycle drivers.
“The man was coming from church with his family. As he got to the junction, he swerved and his tricycle mistakenly brushed their patrol van.
“A policeman hit the tricycle’s windscreen with a baton and damaged it. The second policeman fired a bullet which hit the woman in the neck, came out from the other side, and hit her husband too.”
He said the policemen collected N5,000 from him and also extorted money from other tricycle drivers.
Another witness, Kabiru Olaoye, said the residents quickly formed a crowd at the scene and prevented the policemen from leaving.
He added that the cops called for reinforcement, adding that officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and policemen from surrounding divisions arrived at the scene and rescued the killer-cops.
Olaoye said, “The policemen, who perpetrated the havoc, were eight in number and they included Demola and Aremu. Aremu was the one who fired the shot.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that while the woman died immediately, the man was quickly rushed to the Igando General Hospital.
“The man was rejected at the Igando hospital and was taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital at Ikeja.”
A tricycle driver, Oladimeji Ayinde, said the police deposited the remains of the victim in a mortuary.
It was learnt that the family tricycle had been taken to the Area M Police Command, while the children of the victims were with the police.
A member of the tricycle drivers association in the area, Bamidele Olorunshogo, said tricycle drivers in the community were being constantly harassed by the police in the Isheri Osun station.
Olorunshogo said, “Their mode of operation is that whenever the police arrest you, you will pay at least N3,000. If you don’t have the money on you, you will be allowed to go home and bring the money.”
Another member of the association, Salman Aboyeji, told PUNCH Metro that the police at the station were fond of unlawful arrest and detention of drivers.
He said the protest that greeted the death of Idongesit, led to the release of 13 other tricycle drivers, who had been arrested under controversial circumstances.
Albert Itekena, a 300-level student of Political Science, who also operates a tricycle in the community, called for an end to the intimidation.
A member of the CDHR, Ifechiga, who was allegedly brutalised during the Thursday protest called for justice.
Ifechiga said, “The DPO said I was one of them (the police) and I should not join the protesters. Because I refused, he said I should release my phone to him.
“He said he would disgrace me before everybody.
“He pointed a gun at me and the crowd dared him to shoot. He then ordered eight policemen to beat me up because I refused to give him my phone. He humiliated me before the protesters. But I am determined to get justice for the couple; and I want my phone back.”
The Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, who confirmed the incident, said Aremu had been arrested and detained.
He added that the DPO of Isheri Osun had also been issued a query for disobeying the Inspector General of Police’s instruction.
He said, “The police are doing all in our capacity to ensure that the deceased’s children are taken care of. The police corporal involved has been taken into custody. When we complete all necessary disciplinary action, he will be charged to court for murder.
“The team leader and the DPO of Isheri Osun division have also been issued queries for disobeying the IG with regards to policemen performing duties out of uniform, and without a properly-labelled police van.”