seven policemen attached to the Anthony Police Division are being quizzed for their roles in a fracas involving fuel vendors at the Ishaga junction, Lawanson Road, Surulere, Lagos State.
The policemen were alleged to be in the habit of collecting money and free fuel from the vendors as part of arrangements to give the black marketers freedom to operate by the roadside.
However, there was a disagreement between the two groups on Thursday, which led to a fight.
Three of the uniformed men were said to have chased some of the vendors into Orotedo Street, shooting sporadically.
One of the fuel vendors, Kamarudeen Olalude, was said to have been shot in the waist.
Some hoodlums in the area reportedly surrounded the policemen with clubs, bottles and other weapons, in a bid to fight back.
The reprisal, however, failed, as officers of the Rapid Response Squad attached to the Area C Police Command were said to have responded on time to quell the unrest.
The victim was said to have been rushed to the Lagos Island General Hospital for treatment.
Some residents of the street were reported to have sustained varying degrees of injuries during the incident.
An eyewitness said that 36-year-old Olalude was shot because the fuel vendors could not meet their obligation to the police.
He said, “We usually settle them whenever they come here. We pay them between N10,000 and N20,000. We also give them fuel, and that is how we have been maintaining our relationship with them.
“Around 1pm on Thursday, they came and started making trouble with us. They chased some people into Orotedo Street and shot sporadically.
“ Kamoru (Olalude) was hit and he screamed that he had been shot. He fell down and stood up again. He held to his waist and we all carried him.”
A resident, who identified himself simply as Owodunni, said the victim was not the target of the policeman who fired the shot.
He said, “There were three of them that chased one of the vendors into the street. While one policeman later turned back, the two others continued to pursue him.
“They were shooting and everybody started running around. The man they were chasing scaled the fence to another street, but one of the two men fired a shot which hit Olalude.
“Some people quickly closed their shops and went home, while others shut themselves in their rooms.”
According to report gathered that friends of the victim, who had earlier taken to their heels, regrouped to confront the officers.
A resident said the situation could have been worse, but for the intervention of the RRS of the Area C Police Command.
He said, “The other fuel vendors mobilised against the policemen. They told them they had no right to be in the area in the first place because it was not their jurisdiction.
“The men had bottles in their hand and they were about to strike when the RRS from Area C arrived and chased the vendors away.”
It was learnt that the victim was first rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, where he was rejected due to the ongoing strike by the Association of Resident Doctors in the state.
He was said to have been rushed to the state’s general hospital on the Lagos Island where he was admitted.
A relative of the victim, Idris Ganiyu, said the family had already petitioned the police authorities over the case.
He said, “We have already petitioned the Area C Police Command. Those policemen must be punished for the action. The bullet pierced through Kamoru’s waist and came out from the other side.
“We found a bottle of alcoholic drink mixed with weed in their van, which we believe was the reason they misbehaved that day; they were drunk.
“The Divisional Police Officer of the Surulere station was the one who ordered their arrest so that people would know they were not from his division.”
As of Tuesday, we heard the victim’s condition had improved.
One of his friends, Olumide Alasi, explained that although he was still on admission at the hospital, he was stable.
“We are not thieves or pipeline vandals. We are only trying to eke a living by selling fuel by the roadside. Please, help us beg the government to talk to this people to leave us alone,” he added.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Kenneth Nwosu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said seven policemen had been detained over the matter.
He said, “The policemen are being quizzed with a view to ascertaining what truly transpired. No effort will be spared to ensure that justice is done.”