Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Pandemonium broke out in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Thursday when operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) allegedly shot two Hausa traders at the popular Olomore Pepper and Fresh Fish Market.
According to a trader who witnessed the incident, SARS operatives numbering about eight and said to be attached to the Lafenwa Divisional Police Headquarters stormed the popular market in an unmarked Siena Toyota vehicle when pepper and tomatoes traders were offloading their produce.
The eye witness further informed Daily Sun that the officers accosted the two victims, identified as Musa Adamu and Awwal, dragged them to the ground and shot them.
Adamu was reported to have been shot in the head and left critically injured, while Awwal was shot twice in the leg.
Daily Sun further gathered that three other traders were whisked away by the SARS operatives who fled the scene.
The two victims, who were taken to a private hospital for treatment, were later transferred to the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, for further treatment.
Miffed by the police’s action, scores of traders comprising Hausa and Yoruba as well as residents of the area, barricaded the Brewery-Olomore-Ita Oshin end of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway and made a bonfire.
The mob also chased police officers who first responded to the situation with sticks, stones and other objects, forcing the officers to flee from the scene.
Motorists and commuters who were caught in the melee also scampered to safety as the angry protesters vandalized vehicles, including a car belonging to the Ogun State-owned television station.
A detachment of mobile police and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) were deployed to the scene of violence to restore normalcy.
Addressing reporters later on Thursday, the spokesperson of the Police Command in Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, denied that SARS operatives invaded the market and shot the victims.
According to him, some policemen attached to Lafenwa Police Division and accompanied by a member of the anti-cultism squad had responded to a distress call at Olomore area.
He added that in the bid to take away four suspects arrested in connection with the fracas, some hoodlums accosted them, saying that stray bullets hit two persons as a policeman fired warning shots.
Oyeyemi explained further that the victims were rushed to the hospital and have been responding to treatment.
He, however, said the Commissioner of Police in the state, Kenneth Ebrimson, has ordered a full scale investigation into the case.
The PPRO added the police officer who fired the shot has been ordered to be arrested, submitting “he is currently undergoing interrogation at the State Criminal Investigation Department.”