Controversy has continued to trail the bloody clash between officers of the Nigeria Police and some suspected cult members in Lajolo community, Ilorin East local government area of Kwara State last Saturday.
Two teenagers – AbdulRashed Saouban and Jamiu Fatai, both 18, lost their lives in a manner that many have begun to question.
Though, the Police said the duo were cultists and we’re killed for engaging in a gun duel with the men of the police, who went to the community to effect an arrest of their colleagues that allegedly killed a student of the Kwara State University, days early.
This incidence led to a pandemonium among students of Kwara state Polytechnic, whose school is located in the area. The management of the school was forced to suspend examinations scheduled to hold for students on the day due to sporadic gun shots in the institution community.
Reacting to the incident, the Commissioner of Police in Kwara State, CP Tuesday Assayomo in a statement signed by the spokesperson of the State command, SP Okasanmi Ajayi said, the pandemonium happened as a result of resistance of arrest by some suspected cultists in Lajolo community.
“Kwara State Police Command wishes to allay the fears agitating the minds of the general public, especially residents around Kwara State Polytechnic area, that the pandemonium experienced today within the area arose as a result of the attack unleashed on a team of Police detectives from the Special Tactical Squad (STS) FIB, Abuja, who came on the trail of some cultists in the area”
“Recall that, cultists attacked and killed a student of Kwara State University, Malete, on Friday, Four of the cultists were arrested and dangerous weapons were recoverd from the suspects. Information available to the STS (Special Tactics Squad) team indicated that some of the cultists were hiding at Lajolo area of Kwara Polytechnic Ilorin, where similar attack was unleashed on one student named Idris Aderemi by same cultists at about 0600hrs today, Saturday, in the same area”
“This prompted the visit to the area by the STS team. Surprisingly, the cultists who were already in ambush, attacked the police team damaging the police Hummer bus and inflicting a gunshot injury on the head of one police Sergeant, Adebayo Abdulahi attached to the STS team”
“In the ensuing inbroglio, students in their numbers came out to block the road and prevented free flow of traffic and burning tyres on the road. The Commissioner of Police, immediately dispatched teams of Policemen to the area to restore peace”
However, “two cultists, one Ahmed ‘m’ surname unknown and one Musibau ‘m’ A.K.A Shaban was arrested with one fabricated English pistol with 3 live ammunition, 2 live cartridges and one pistol magazine”
But in what seems to be a counter-narrative to the statement by the police, father of Saouban, one of the victims killed in the fracas, Malam AbdulRasheed Ahmed, an indigene of the community narrated “last week Saturday around 5am we were inside our house and we noticed that some people dressed crudely were trying to forcefully open doors of hostel opposite our house and I ran out to check what was happening. Then I saw an unregistered white hummer bus, which I approached and asked the occupants their mission in the area.
“They told me that they were looking for marijuana (India hemp) smoker and I told them that nobody is smoking India hemp in this hostel, then they said some people hosted birthday in the hostel, last week Sunday, and I told them nothing of such happened here.
“After then, those students were forced to open the door and they were beating them with cutlass. Then I appealed to those police to do them gently, in which they eventually took them away, and I later got to know that it was Adewole Police station they took them to, and they collected N500,000 from all of the students arrested together”
“To everyone’s surprise, the following Saturday, the day this particular incident happened, early in the morning too, they invaded the same hostel again. It was my late son ‘Saouban’ that woke me up and said, Daddy those police people were around again.
“I came out with my torchlight and some people in our compound, but we could not see anybody, we then asked which road did they follow, the next thing we heard was sporadic gun shots. Then I told my people that we should go back”
“Then I went to picked my motorcycle and drove to the school campus to report the incident, because they once told me that, I should be coming to report to Army securing the school anytime something like that is happening. When I got there, the Army already closed and the people to take over the morning duty have not resumed, then I returned back to the spot of the scene.
“I saw one of those officers shooting my son, Saouban, because he saw him recording the happening with his phone. He did not die immediately, but they carry him away in their bus with gun injury, and another boy, Jamiu was also shot when they saw him recoding the incident too. Jamiu died instantly.
“We afterwards moved to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital in Oke Ose, very close to us, but did not see my son, Saouban. We only saw the dead body of Jamiu deposited there.
“We could not find my son, until 3pm when we heard that his dead body had been deposited at State General Hospital at Surulere. On getting to hospital, I saw one student that sustained gun shoot on his head at the hospital receiving treatment, and the boy, who happened to be one of the students living in our community, told me that they brought Saouban here and he saw them putting something in his pocket”
“To our surprise, the next thing we heard police saying was that ‘Saouban’ was a cultist and gun was found in his possession. Saouban, was my son, we were living together, he was a bricklayer and at the same time into a commercial motorcycle riding, and also a student of the Kwara state polytechnic. He was not a cultist”
“The person that killed my son should be identified in the interest of justice. All we want is justice. Government, polytechnic management and members of the society should set up independent investigation panel to probe how my son was unjustly killed,” said deceased’s father
Also reacting, an HND I student of the institution, who also sustained gunshot in his head said, “the so called National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) first raided our hostel, collected our phones and took us away, and later released us after payment of N100,000 each”
“On this unfortunate Saturday, they also returned for the same kind of operation, early in the morning, the community came out to ask where they came from, and they claimed to be NDLEA, and start harassing everybody, which later led to free-for-all”
“I was hit on the head with gun shot and my friends took me to the hospital for treatment. Those people saw me in the hospital when they came to deposit dead body of one of the victims and told me categorically that they were NDLEA. I saw them dropping something in the pocket of the dead body brought to the hospital (Saouban). If not timely coming of the Student Union Government (SUG) president and his entourage, that came and took me out of that hospital, they were trying to kill me too, and all people that followed me to the hospital were arrested and took away”
“I even saw, when a particular Police officer cut his head with razor blade and that was the person they were claiming sustained gunshot of cultists. Nobody among students or villagers shot any gun. It was only police that were shooting”
“I am the one responsible for my treatment and I heard that they have declared me wanted because of information I have, they said I ran away from the hospital. Yes, I did because of my safety. I am not a cultist. My appeal, to the school management, government and entire Nigerians is that nothing should happen to my life. If anything happen to me, Police should be held responsible” he said.