The police is again in the news. The force, notorious for regularly gunning down innocent and defenceless citizens, is again at the centre of a fresh controversy over the extrajudicial murder of a Lagos market leader and traditional ruler, Pa Oriyomi Jacob Bamigbelu, in clearly mysterious circumstances, Lagos-based Vanguard newspaper is reporting.
Pa Oriyomi, a father of three, was until his murder on Thursday November 10, the secretary of the market association in Ebute and Ikorodu areas of Lagos State. But his 100-year-old mother, relatives and friends are pointing accusing fingers at some members of the Nigeria Police Force who allegedly abducted the deceased before killing him.
Vanguard Metro, VM, learnt that on that fateful Thursday, the deceased, aged 68, and his children were allegedly ‘abducted’ by four policemen who stormed his Bamigbelu residence located in the Parafa area of Ikorodu North. The incident allegedly happened shortly after Pa Oriyomi returned from a trip to his family house at Itamito. He was allegedly shot at a close range by his abductors at about 2pm.
His widow who was simply identified as Mama Ibeji, his younger brother Adesina Afinju Adaba and his son Alaba gave a vivid account of how Pa Oriyomi died. According to them, the deceased who was the Acting Baale of Bamigbelu lived in Bamigbelu area of Ikorodu North from where he pays visits to his family house at Number 16A Ijomu, Itamito in Ikorodu. But his visit on Wednesday November 9, turned out to be his last as he was sent to his early grave shortly after arriving at Bamigbelu.
No sooner had he arrived than four policemen, who were not on uniform, allegedly stormed the house in a bus which they snatched from its owner. The victims initially thought that their assailants were armed robbers apparently because they wore plain clothes. They (policemen) allegedly tortured them before whisking them away. Driving a few metres away from the scene of the attack, they stopped, identified themselves as policemen from Ijede Division and immediately handcuffed the children.
The late Baale and Lagos CP
They were said to have asked: “Who exactly is Baale among you?” On identification, the policemen were said to have ordered him to return home to raise the funds that would be used to procure the bail of his children. VM was told that immediately the Baale alighted from the bus, one of the policemen shot him but the bullet narrowly missed its target. He was alleged to have fired another shot which pierced through the deceased, forcing him to slump before dying in the pool of his own blood.
On noticing he was dead, two of the policemen took to their heels, abandoning the others. Those who were trying to escape were overpowered by a mob which took note of all that transpired. They took them to Ijede Police Station where they claimed to have come from. Either by coincidence or providence, the owner of the snatched bus arrived at the same time to report the theft of his vehicle.
News of the Baale’s murder spread like wild fire round the community but people were warned to conceal it from the widow who had gone to the shop after preparing breakfast for her husband. Recounting the incident, the widow said: “He spent the night at Itamito. He had asked me to prepare Eba for his breakfast. I was restless in the afternoon as I perceived strongly in my spirit that something terrible has happened. I was uncomfortable with the way people looked at me and shook their head in pity.
“Based on this, I bought a N500 recharge card and called all relatives but nobody gave me any clue. Around 4pm, I closed the shop and went home but met sympathisers at home. I asked them what happened but none of them responded. Later in the day, Afinju-Adaba came around to break the news of Baale’s death. It was unbelievable because the plates of food were parked somewhere after the breakfast. Who could have believed that the person who ate the food is dead?”
VM was told that the operation undertaken by the policemen was illegal as it was not officially recorded. The Commandant of Area N said he would bring the culprits to book as soon as investigations are concluded.
It was gathered that the deceased had collected the Ikorodu-Oga Day Aso-ebi for people in the area. The programme was scheduled for the weekend but he did not live to be part of it.
Those who spoke to VM described the late Baale as a very gentle and peaceful man. His death sparked off violence in Bamigbelu as residents took to the streets to protest the brutal murder of their traditional ruler.
The deceased’s son, Alaba, 35, told VM of how he got a distress call around 3pm on that fateful Thursday. “I received a distress call that my father was shot by the Police; he was already dead before I got there. Thank God the officers have been arrested! The community did not take the law into their hands by killing the policemen, rather they were handed over to the Police,” he said.
The deceased’s younger brother, Afinju Adaba, called on the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to ensure justice is done. “What happened was a planned work and if the criminals are tortured very well, they will reveal who sent them. One of them gave his name as Wasiu while another was nicknamed ‘Alepa’. We want government to assist in ensuring that justice is done on this matter, ” he said.
The Lagos State Police PRO, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, told VM on phone that the case has been transferred to Panti for further investigation.