A two-year-old pupil, Gbonjubola Williams, narrowly escaped death on Friday as one of the bullets allegedly fired by some operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Lagos State Command, grazed her in the chest. The bullet tore the skin of the girl’s chest and part of her shoulder.
Gbonjubola is in kindergarten class at Child Line Nursery and Primary School, Ebute-Meta.
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It was learnt that the policemen raided the community around 5pm on Friday to apprehend suspected drug peddlers. The operatives were said to have chased them to Jones Street without success.
They, afterwards, went to a lotto centre on the street, and picked up the operator, Taoheed Popoola, his worker, Segun Akinloye and four others.
It was gathered that a community leader, Ishola Agbodemu, had approached the policemen to enquire why the six residents were arrested, but they responded by shooting him.
Agbodemu, who is also a member of a Mainland-based vigilance group, escaped being killed.
The stray bullet reportedly grazed the girl, who was with her mother a few metres away from the scene.
The mother, Mrs. Omowunmi Williams, told PUNCH Metro on Monday that her daughter was treated at a clinic in the area.
She said, “My daughter and I were sitting in front of our residence that evening when the policemen chased some boys to our street. When they could not arrest any of them, they arrested my brother (Popoola) and other people and took them inside the vehicle they brought.
“While my mother was pleading with them, Mr. Agbodemu tried to know what their offence was. They started shooting again. The bullet hit my daughter slightly. If we were not some distance away, the injury would be serious.”
Popoola stated that a member of the team that carried out the raid collected N150,000 before he and his worker were released on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
“When we saw the policemen, I told my workers and customers not to run away since we didn’t commit any offence.
“I was surprised when they came back to arrest us. They said we must provide the boys selling drugs. I said we had no business with them, but they arrested us.
“When we got to the police command in Ikeja, I explained to them that I was a lotto principal agent and that the detention would affect my business. They said each of us must pay at least N100,000 if we wanted to be given bail.
“I raised the money and was released on Saturday. As a principal agent, I coordinate other branches and it is only Segun (Akinloye) who knows my agents in those branches. I had to beg them before they collected N50,000 for his bail. Four others, Idris, Saheed, Wasiu and Dauda are still in detention,” he added.
Agbodemu, who condemned the manner the raid was conducted, said he could not explain how he managed to escape the bullets shot at him by the operatives.
He said the Divisional Police Officers of Denton and Iponri divisions, who oversee the area, denied knowledge of the operation.
“I was in my house at about 6pm when I heard that SARS officers were arresting people in my community. They didn’t wear uniforms. We were able to identify them as policemen through their guns.
“They came in an unregistered white Hilux. I met two of them to know the reasons behind the arrest. Instead of receiving answers to my questions, an officer with a pistol shot at me three times. A bullet grazed the chest of the girl in the process. When they were about to leave, they changed their clothes to vests with FSARS written on them.
“Just as I am happy that I haven’t bid the world farewell, I have yet to fully recover from the shock.”
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, promised to contact SARS unit and get back to our correspondent with comment.
He had, however, yet to get back as of press time.