Teenager hit by stray bullet during Mile 12 clash relives ordeal
- ‘Policemen drove me out of their station when I rushed there to seek help’
By Tessy Igomu
HE was destined to survive and live out his dream of one day becoming a surgeon. Indeed, it was a sheer miracle that Bolaji Kalejaiye, 16, cheated death on March 3 while returning from where he went to write the just concluded Joint Admission and Matriculation Examination in Ikeja, Lagos. The teenager was hit by a stray bullet during the face-off between the Yoruba and Hausa communities in the Agiliti area of Mile 12. The crisis, which lasted for days, allegedly claimed the lives of schoolchildren, traders, artisans and residents. In the pandemonium triggered by the fight, Bolaji alighted from a red LAGBUS, right in the middle of the tension-soaked theatre of war, unaware of the danger that lurked around. As he joined the sea of heads to raise their hands, as directed by the security men on ground, chaos suddenly broke and people scampered for safety.
As shots rang out, Bolaji suddenly realised he had been hit from behind by a bullet. All he saw was his intestine pumping out of his stomach.
With unusual courage, he quickly removed his shirt and used it to push his intestines back. At the same time, he applied pressure to reduce loss of blood. Getting weak from blood loss and determined to survive against all odds, he hastened to the nearest police station to seek help. Unfortunately, he was chased out of the station by the policemen.
“They asked me if the police station looked to me like a hospital,” the boy recalled.
As strength drained out of Bolaji and his pace slowed due to the amount of blood he already lost, he was picked up by some sympathisers and rushed to a herbal home, where he was stabilised and the bullet extricated. When his father, who had earlier been contacted, arrived at the herbal home, he was rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.
At LASUTH, the doctors were said to have swung into action. Bolaji immediately underwent a life-saving surgery that lasted for hours. He was later discharged and taken home to recuperate.
Locating his father’s house within the labyrinths of streets criss-crossing the Owode-Elede community was an uphill task. But when the reporter finally did, it was a young man beaming with strength and unfazed by the near death ordeal, which almost marred his dreams, that relaxed on a seat in the sitting room.
Though still very frail, Bolaji was conversing with his twin brother, Adebayo, who after hearing about the incident became very ill.
“When my twin brother heard about what happened to me, he became very sick. You can see how lean he is. He just started eating well. He was really traumatised,” he said.
Recalling how he nearly became a victim of the Mile 12 clash, Bolaji said he left home at about 5am and got to the JAMB centre at 7.30am. He noted that when he finished his exam at about 2pm and discovered he scored 250 aggregate, he was overwhelmed with joy and headed home immediately to share the good news with his parents. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it home.
According to him: “I had only taken three steps after dropping from the bus when I felt this terrible pain. I started feeling something coming out of me and when I looked, I saw my intestines gushing out. I immediately pulled my shirt and used it to push them back. Immediately, I started running to the police station. But I was turned back by the policemen. They asked me: ‘This place be like hospital?’ They then chased me away.
Already, there were two sympathisers helping me. One of them asked for my father’s number and called to tell him about the incident. By the time they took me to a herbal clinic, the bullet was trying to force itself out and I told the man to allow me remove it by myself. After I was given first aid, I was taken to LASUTH, where the doctors immediately operated on me.”
Asked how the thought of packing his intestines back into his stomach occurred to him, Bolaji disclosed that his experience as a volunteer Red Cross member, some research done in secondary school, and scenes from science movies all helped to save his life.
Bolaji said from the moment he was hit by the bullet, he was not scared of death and knew he would never die.
“I only pleaded for God’s mercy. I continuously prayed for Him to have mercy on me. I used my hands to hold my intestine from falling down and I was pushing them back inside. I attend the Redeemed Christian Church of God with my parents and knew God’s grace would never leave me. It was God’s mercy that located me,” the teenage boy said.
Even now, Bolaji is still billed to undergo two more corrective surgeries. Though he passes faeces through the anus, extensive damage was done to his digestive system, hence, waste spews from one of his intestine through a hole on his side into a waste bag attached with plaster to his body.
Despite not knowing what the future holds for him, especially with the precarious state of his health, the medical enthusiast, who is hopeful that his 250 JAMB score would get him a slot at the University of Ibadan or at the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, said the ordeal strengthened his resolve to become an abdominal surgeon.
“I want to save lives the way mine was saved. I have a strong will to live my dream as a medical doctor and I have assured my parents that I shall survive this. I will not die,” he declared.
“With God sparing my life to see another day, I promise to serve Him no matter the circumstance. My dream is to work towards working someday as a doctor at LASUTH.”
Fulfilling Bolaji’s dream is one task his mother, Alero, said she would struggle hard to achieve. The trader, who sells crayfish at Oyingbo Market, is grateful to God that the bullet did not affect Bolaji’s spinal cord or any other major organ in his body. The mother of five disclosed that since the incident, the family had spent over N400, 000, adding that she had become indebted to her customers and is at a loss on how to repay them.
According to her: “When the incident happened, I was already at Mile 12, on my way from Ondo State where I went to buy crayfish. Usually, I buy on credit and pay later. That day, as I was holding my crayfish with one hand, while raising the other one as we were ordered by the army, I heard some people discussing about a boy that was hit by a stray bullet. I joined them to pray for the boy to survive, not knowing it was my son they were discussing. It was when I got home that someone told me the news.
“Immediately, I lost my mind, threw away what was on my head and ran all the way to Mile 12 and back. It was while running back that some women held me down. I was able to see my son before he was rushed to LASUTH. Thank God the doctors made all efforts to save his life. I finally got myself when he woke up after the surgery to tell me not to worry, that he wouldn’t die.”
Bolaji’s mother said she was not ready to seek justice or make a case against anyone, adding that her concern at the moment was for her son to undergo the remaining surgeries, become healthy and move on with his life.
“I am content with what God has done for me. He did the greatest miracle for me by sparing my son’s life. Another boy was hit by a bullet on the leg and he didn’t survive. So, I thank God. I know I have grace from God. My only prayer is for God to help us because we don’t know where the money for the remaining surgeries will come from. My husband and I are just managing. I am appealing to Nigerians to come to our aid. Bolaji is a very intelligent boy. His dream should not be allowed to die like that. Already, I owe my customers over N400, 000. Going to them to ask for more help would make me look ungrateful.
“It’s not been easy. During one of the days we were in the hospital, the nurses needed a particular drug and there was no money. I had to leave the hospital, bury whatever was called shame and headed to China Town to beg for alms. I begged for hours and made about five thousand naira.
On the way back to the hospital, I cried like never before because I never imagined that I could find myself in such a situation.
I was able to pay for the drug and till this moment, my husband is still wondering how I got the money. My business is presently on hold because I need to take care of Bolaji.”
For Bolaji’s father, Andrew, a former sailor, his anger is not against the Nigeria Police for using live bullets, instead of rubber bullets to disperse the rioters. He’s more bitter with the system which, he stressed, failed to ensure that
internationally accepted practices were upheld.
He noted that the tenacity with which his son pursued knowledge had never
ceased to amaze, adding that he was happy that the fire was not extinguished
“My son was the head boy of Kosofe Senior College, Ketu, and he maintained
top grades till he left. That is the boy that the Nigeria Police wanted to waste just
like that. My concern now is how to raise money for the remaining surgeries. Each
time we take him for check-up, I spend not less than N10, 000 and it has not been
easy. I am using this medium to appeal for help from well meaning Nigerians. Bolaji’s
dream should not be allowed to die. I would try my best as a father to ensure he
gets the best care,” he said.
Mr. Kalejaiye thanked the Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Hon.
Mudasiru Obasa, and the Chairman, House Committee on Health, Olusegun Olulade,
as well as doctors and nurses in LASUTH for the roles they played to save his son’s
“I also want to thank some Nigerians that stepped in at the time to help. I don’t know them but God saw their acts
of kindness and would reward them accordingly,” he prayed.