Late Dele Orooja
On Thursday, September 7, Dele Orooja did not go to work, as was his usual custom. He spent time with his 70-year-old mother and 78-year-old father and his pregnant wife. He had always admired his wife and that Thursday morning he talked about their wedding plans slated for December.
Orooja left home at 7.30pm. But he never returned alive. Within few minutes of his stay outside, his life was cut short by a trigger-happy policeman attached to the Meiran Police Station.
He was killed at a junction leading to his own house by Corporal Abbey Adekunle, according to residents of the area who testified that they saw the policeman fire three gun shots at Orooja.
According to eyewitnesses, Orooja was killed by one of the policemen who had mounted a roadblock at Ile-Iwe (school) Junction because he failed to give them tips.
“On Wednesday, one KEKE NAPEP carried a passenger who is a soldier. The police stopped the driver of the KEKE to demand N50 but the soldier told the driver to move on. The police insisted the KEKE NAPEP driver must give the N50 bribe regardless of the soldier’s intervention. The action of the policeman got the soldier angry and the next moment he slapped him across his face. When the soldier slapped the policeman for resisting his authority, he attempted to retaliate and the soldier got furious again such that he dragged him down.
Just before the soldier slapped the policeman, Dele who was the chairman of KEKE NAPEP operators in the area, had arrived at the scene and he supported the soldier against the police. He simply told the soldier that the police were fond of mounting roadblocks at Ile-Iwe to collect money from KEKE NAPEP riders and motorcyclists, thus making life difficult for them.
With these words, the police marked out Dele for his implicating comments. Just the next day, Dele strolled into a waiting trap, as it seemed by coming out that evening. Darkness provided the cover for them to attack Dele who was shot; and the man died,” said an eyewitness.
Another eyewitness who was with Dele when the incident happened corroborated the first eyewitness’ account. He said: “I was with Dele when the policeman fired a shot at the KEKE we were riding in. The bullet hit the back tire of the KEKE and Dele asked our driver to stop. When the driver stopped, Dele stepped out to meet the policeman and as he came out, the policeman said: ‘Coach, you.’ And he fired two more sporadic shots that immediately took the life out of Dele. I believe Dele was killed for demanding justice for the KEKE NAPEP operators in Meiran.
“It was fallout of the face-off between the policeman and the soldier on Wednesday that made the police shoot Dele, popularly called Coach. He was a gentleman who had respect for everyone. When Dele was shot, I was afraid and I ran to report to Dele’s parents nearby and a moment after Dele was carried down to the house soaked in his own blood. By this time, the policeman had run into the station nearby for protection amongst his colleagues.”
When THISDAY visited House number 3 on Odo Orooja Street in Ile-Iwe community at Meiran, where the late Orooja had lived all his 35 years on earth, it was a mournful scene. Sympathisers and family members wept uncontrollably even as they rained curses on his killers.
The late Orooja’s aged mother, said: “Dele was our breadwinner. When he was at work, he would call home to say how are you to me and when he comes back, he would say take this little money to make food for everybody. I will then call his sister to go to the market and buy us foodstuffs. Dele was the fourth of my children. He has brothers and sisters, a pregnant wife and you can see his father over there. Let there be justice in this matter. Dele did not kill anybody, why did police kill him for no wrong? ”
THISDAY checks among KEKE NAPEP operators showed that the late Orooja was loved. According to one of the KEKE NAPEP riders, “We called him Coach because he had been behind our success and progress in this environment. Dele was on the KEKE NAPEP planning committee for Nigeria independence anniversary celebration in our area. He was a straightforward person. It would be hard to forget Dele. It was unfortunate the police killed him for no offence, except that he was against police making life difficult for KEKE NAPEP operators.”
The killing of Orooja, THISDAY gathered, led to late night protests in Meiran community last Thursday and early morning bonfire on Friday as KEKE NAPEP operators threatened to burn down the police station, if the man who killed Dele was not produced. The police have since reinforced and drafted more of their men from other stations with two Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and patrol vehicles in the area to keep the protesters under control.
The Lagos State Police Command claimed it had arrested Adekunle for the alleged murder of Dele. According to police authorities, Adekunle, who is attached to the Meiran Police Station, shot the deceased around 10.20 pm while on duty in front of the police station.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko, has also said Adekunle would be dismissed and prosecuted for murder.
Earlier, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Abubakar, had told his men to desist from mounting illegal roadblocks to extort money from commercial drivers.
As the family of the late Adekunle demands justice for the killing of their late child, tongues are wagging over whether or not the family of the deceased will get justice.