Anthony Samuel, the victim
Anthony Samuel, laments his close shave with death when a police chaplain with the Lagos State Command shot him in fits of anger, writes Chiemelie Ezeobi
The irascible behaviour of officers of the Nigerian Police was again brought to the fore with the shooting of 25-year-old Anthony Samuel, a commercial tricycle rider popularly known as Keke Marwa by the Lagos State Police Chaplain, Moses Adekola, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). Although the chaplain has since been detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos, more people are worried at the uncontrollable urge of officers of the force to shoot civilians at the slightest provocation. It would be recalled that the chaplain had shot at the victim for arguing with him.
The worrisome incident, which happened last week at the Ikeja area of the state has reinforced the innate need for the force authorities to enroll their men in anger management classes since the nature of their job puts them in contact with civilians often.
The ASP had allegedly shot the operator in the arm at Obada Junction, Ikeja area of the state for daring to argue with him over the right of way. According to eyewitness accounts, the chaplain who was purportedly driving home had run into a traffic hitch reportedly caused by some tricycle operators who were picking commuters along the road.
When attempts to make them leave the road failed, the ASP was said to have alighted from his car to compel them to disband but his appeal soon degenerated to an argument between both parties. Livid at their repeated refusal to leave the road, Adekola was said to have gone back to his car to get his service pistol with which he allegedly attempted to shoot some of the operators.
On sighting the pistol and the rage on the ASP’s face, the main operator that caused the traffic snarl was said to have fled the scene on his tricycle.
An eyewitness said although passers-by challenged the policeman for drawing his pistol on a civilian over a non-consequential issue, he left his car and mounted a commercial motorcycle in pursuit of the fleeing tricycle operator.
THISDAY gathered that the ASP caught up with the tricyclist at Obada junction, around Anifowose, where he allegedly shot him at the right shoulder. Expectedly, passers-by caught up with the ASP and unleashed their anger on him, and would have lynched him but for the timely arrival of policemen from Man Centre Division.
When information filtered to the command, the ASP was arrested and transferred to the SCID on the directive of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Manko.
Sources at the command headquarters said the CP was infuriated at the chaplain’s action as he was not supposed to be moving with arms not to talk of drawing it at the slightest provocation.
Attempts to confirm the incident from the CP then had proved abortive but in successive days, THISDAY gathered that it was at the CP’s command that the chaplain was disarmed and arrested. However, a police source at SCID confirmed that the suspect was indeed in their custody.
According to him, the suspect was brought in on the orders of the commissioner of police and would be charged for attempted murder. The source said the suspect is being held by the Homicide Section and has written statements, adding that to help ongoing investigations, the blood-stained tricycle was also impounded.
According to the victim, who is presently on admission at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Ebutte Meta, the chaplain had shot at him because he almost brushed his car with his tricycle. Relieving the incident amidst excruciating pains, he said at about 6pm, he was picking passengers to Ikeja Bus Stop before the unforeseen situation happened.
He said: “I had gotten to Medical Road when I saw him about to cross the road so I slowed down for him. When he did not cross, I then thought he gave me the right of way to cross and I did exactly that. However, no sooner did I attempt to cross than he also made to cross too but I swerved in the opposite direction and went my way.”
He said he had dropped off his passengers at Medical Road and made to head to Anifowose Street when he heard a gunshot. At first, he said he could not believe the gunshot was meant for him until he saw the gush of blood spurt from his right shoulder.
He added: “I was approaching Oba Akran Road, when I heard a gunshot. The bullet struck the rear glass of my tricycle, pierced through my right shoulder and the bullet came out. When it dawned on me that I was shot, I was in so much pain and at that time I really thought I would die because my blood was gushing out on the ground. The policeman sped off on a commercial motorcycle after he had shot me, but I heard people gave him a chase and caught up with him.” It was then the victim was quickly rushed to the emergency unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja.
Some of the victim’s colleagues, who expressed their disgust at the policeman’s little regard for life said they had to give him a chase as he attempted to flee. One of the Keke Marwa riders said the capture of the fleeing policeman was due to the combined efforts of both commercial motorcyclists and tricycle riders.
According to them, when the chaplain shot their colleague they made attempts to stop him, but he tried to scare them away with the pistol but he was overpowered. Speaking for his colleagues, Michael Oham said: “The policeman rode on the Okada of one of our colleagues so we were able to flag him down because he is one of us.
“Immediately he slowed down, we tried to apprehend the policeman, but tried to scare us off by waving his pistol. We, however, overpowered him because we were more than 50. We would have lynched him but policemen attached to Man Centre Division intervened and took him away. We released him after they promised that he would be dealt with.”
With gratitude for saving the life of her only son, the victim’s mother, Victoria, commended the efforts of the doctors at LASUTH who responded swiftly and gave first aid before referring him to the FMC for lack of bed space, adding that he would have bled to death.
Expressing her disappointment that a policeman and a chaplain at that, who should have known better was quick to release bullets on civilians, Victoria called on the police authorities to ensure that justice is served and not to be swept under the carpet by events.
Although some of the medical personnel on ground said they were not permitted to speak to the press, they, however, disclosed that Anthony would regain the use of his arm after eight weeks as the bullet fortunately did not damage any vital organ.
THISDAY gathered that a successful surgery was first performed on the victim before the affected arm was cast with Plaster of Paris (POP) until he regains full use of the arm through therapy.
However, Anthony who was undoubtedly happy at the news of his survival could not help but lament at the waste of time the recovery would cost him. While noting that he is the breadwinner of the family, he said eight weeks of incapacitation forebodes ill for his family as he brings food to the table through his job.
Already he said he had spent a lot on hospital bills. He, however disclosed that the police had promised to offset all further expenses. Still lamenting, he said: “My parents are unemployed and they depend on me to provide for them. The problem now is that even after I’m discharged, I still cannot resume work immediately because I would have to regain the use of my arm first.”
Moses Adekola, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP)