Lagos tear gas: Sergeant, two others killed as pupils shun schools over police, hoodlums clash

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There was tension in the Idi-Oro and Akala areas of Mushin on Wednesday following a clash between policemen from the Area D Command, Mushin, and some hoodlums in the community.

PUNCH Metro, during a visit to the area, observed that business activities were grounded as many schoolchildren shunned school over fear of reprisals.

Streets were dotted with broken bottles, while some residents, who stood in groups, discussed the incident in hushed tones.

Our correspondent had reported that no fewer than five people lost their lives on Tuesday after a police team allegedly raided a shop stocked with hemp.

Some residents were said to have attacked the police team with stones and broken bottles, as the cops retreated.

The policemen were said to have returned with reinforcements as they engaged the hoodlums in a shootout during which a police sergeant and three residents were reportedly klled.

A Junior Secondary School two pupil, Samuel Okechukwu, who allegedly had asthma, died from the tear gas thrown by the police during the fight.

The police were alleged to have thrown tear gas canisters into some secondary schools, including Nawair-Ud-Deen Comprehensive College on Alhaji Lasisi Street.

The Head of School, Nawair-Ud-Deen Comprehensive College, Soliu Abiola, said the pupils were performing ablutions around 2pm when the tear gas entered the school.

He said, “There was panic as the children ran helter-skelter. We shut the classes. The gas affected us, but none of the pupils was hurt.

“Today, about 50 of our pupils stayed back at home and when we called their parents, they said they were studying the security situation. But with what we have seen today (Wednesday), we can only hope that there will be improvement in attendance tomorrow (Thursday).”

A senior management officer of Hill-Top Nursery and Primary School, who did not want to be identified, said the majority of the pupils did not come to school.

“When the crisis started and we saw the policemen, I asked them if we were safe and their boss said they did not come for us. He said we should shut our doors, which we did.

“But when they fired the tear gas, all the children were crying and screaming that their eyes were peppering them. We did not release the pupils until around 6pm. We called their parents to come to pick them. Today, the majority of our pupils are not around and we will be closing early to avoid any problem.”

PUNCH Metro gathered that the dead pupil, Okechukwu, had stopped attending Amazing Grace School and was a pupil of Birch Freeman Junior High School, Mushin.

A neighbour, who did not identify herself, said Okechukwu was returning from school when he was caught in the chaos and got choked by tear gas.

“He collapsed, but his friends carried him and brought him home. Because the shootout was intense and the tear gas had pervaded everywhere, his parents could not take him to a hospital until he died,” she said.

Our correspondent learnt that the corpse of the 14-year-old was taken to his hometown in Ebonyi State for burial.

His parents’ apartment was locked when PUNCH Metro visited.

“They could not even raise money for their travel. We contributed money to get them a vehicle to take the corpse home,” another neighbour said.

A JSS 1 pupil, who was injured during the melee, Aisha Sobande, said she wanted to hurry home when she was hit by a vehicle.

Aisha said a tricycle rider took her to a clinic for treatment.

Her mother, Mrs. Bose Sobande, said she had spent over N40,000 on her treatment, adding that the family had run out of funds.

“I did not expect her teacher to release her to go home because of the situation of things. Now, her leg has been broken and we need more money for treatment. Her father is dead,” she added.

Angry residents lamented the loss of their property to the clash, as some alleged that the police team, led by the Area D Commander, Akinbayo Olusoji, took away their property.

A woman, Bintu Rosulu, claimed that fried meat meant for a naming ceremony was stolen.

“Immediately the police shot the tear gas, there was confusion and everybody fled into their houses. The fried meat we prepared for a naming ceremony diseappeared afterwards. We took the baby to a house in Oshodi because the tear gas was much. We used kerosene to wipe our children’s faces,” she said.

Another woman claimed that the policemen took away her crates of beer, some of which were used during the fight.

“I don’t know that policemen also throw bottles; they had cutlasses and knives with which they attacked the boys,” another resident said.

A lotto agent, who identified herself only as Tolani, said her colleague was arrested and his terminal impounded by the police.

“The generator in a viewing centre beside my shop was also taken away,” she added.

A man in the community, who did not want to be identified, said the hemp dealers felt betrayed by the police, who he claimed collected “settlements” from them.

“The area commander had a funeral recently and some of them made the ceremony a success,” he added.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Chike Oti, said the police had a record of three deaths, including a policeman, adding that some suspects had been arrested.

He said, “On Tuesday, around 8am, the Area D Commander, Mushin, received credible information that a bullion van, with the number plate, MUS 834 ER, loaded with arms and substance suspected to be Indian Hemp, was being escorted by some armed men to Umoru Street, Odi-Olowo, Mushin, where some hoodlums were waiting to deliver the items.

“Based on this, a contingent of policemen, led by the area commander, was quickly mobilised to the scene.

“On sighting the policemen, the hoodlums opened fire which was repelled by the policemen. Two of the hoodlums were fatally wounded, while one Ayomide Oluwadayo, aged 40, and five other principal suspects, were arrested.

“However, a member of the team, Sgt. Abam Mohammed, was hit by a bullet during the encounter and was rushed to the Mainland General Hospital, Yaba, for treatment where he later died.”

Oti said two pump-action guns with 50 unexpended cartridges and sacks of hemp were recovered from the suspects.

He added that while efforts were ongoing to impound the bullion van, the corpses had been deposited in a morgue for autopsy.

The police spokesperson said security had been beefed-up in the area.Punch

 

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