How Teenage Casualty of Okada Ban Cheated Death 

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Mariam Shobukola

Contrary reports that she died after a stray bullet hit her during last Wednesday’s clash between the police and commercial motorcyclists at the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos, the family of 15-year-old Mariam Shobukola, who presently lies in pains at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, is seeking justice, Sunday Ehigiator writes

Fifteen year old Mariam Shobukola recently cheated death. She was a victim of last week Wednesday’s clash between the police and commercial motorcycle riders, also known as Okada at the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos.

In what was already reported as a case of another innocent girl killed by a stray bullet from another trigger-happy unidentified policeman, the recent riot over the ban on Okada and tricycles (Keke Marwa) by the Lagos State Government was to protest their ban on six local government areas and the subsequent impounding of 86 motorcycles in the area.

After the clash, reports had it that the teenager in the viral video had bled to death, a claim that THISDAY’s investigation revealed to be false. In the viral video. But in the ensuing pandemonium, some miscreants hijacked the protest, vandalised cars and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), as well as accosted motorists and pedestrians.

Commercial activities naturally ground to a halt given the violent nature of the protest. Banks, shops and markets were forced to shut down as the rampaging riders set bonfires as they destroyed whatever was in their path.

When the police reinforcements were deployed to quell the situation, the rioters repelled them, prompting the police to fire into the air, which hit the victim. Kitted in her mint green shirt and check skirt, the victim was on her way home from school with her classmates when the stray bullet hit her on the stomach.

Passersby tried to perform first aid on her by contributing clothes to stop the blood from flowing, while her parents wailed. Meanwhile, the police beat a retreat to avoid being lynched by the enraged mob.

Over the weekend, THISDAY had gone on a fact finding mission on the circumstances surrounding the incident, which revealed that  although she survived her ordeal, she is presently groaning in pains at the medical ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja. Already, her family is seeking  for justice, while calling on the government and other well meaning Nigerians to come to their aid.

A Survivor’s Story 

All she did wrong was take a moment out to spit out cough while awaiting her new headmistress, whom she had volunteered to show where to carry out a POS-transaction for the school. The next minute, she was on the ground battling for her life after being hit by a stray bullet shot by a trigger happy policeman.

For the teen, a secondary school two student, whose long term dream is to someday become a renowned accountant-cum-business woman, her life flashed before her face.

Earlier, THISDAY had paid a visit to her school, ‘De Light International School’, located at number 35, Yisa Street, Aboru Iyana-Ipaja, where the school Proprietor, Mr. Abiodun Samuel, narrated how Mariam, whom he described as the brightest student in her class, and also the Social Prefect of the school ended up at being caught in harm’s way at the time of the day she was supposed to be in the classroom learning.

Interestingly, the school had suspended academic activities for the week till the following week in solidarity to Mariam and to likewise calm all arising tension from the incident.

“On that Wednesday, we realised N50,000 and there was a company that we owed money for textbook and wanted to settle the bill. So we asked the headmistress to go and post the money to the company through POS transaction.

“But the HM is new here, we just employed her. And she told me that she couldn’t locate where the POS agent was. Hence, she called Mariam to take her to the place. Afterward, I got notified by the company that they have received the money.

“Not too long after, I saw the HM run in panicking and informed us that a stray bullet had hit Mariam where they stood making the transaction. She said they heard three gun shots and one met her beside her waist.

Initial Hiccups at Hospital

Shockingly, the lapses in the medical field became more glaring in this matter and it took hours until she was operated on in the third hospital they went to. The proprietor said: “Immediately, I rushed down to carry her. We took her first to a private hospital where she was rejected on the grounds that they don’t have the facility to treat her. They referred us to the general hospital here at Aboru. After they conducted an x-ray, they also said they cannot handle the case and they then referred us to Ikeja General Hospital.

“When we got to LASUTH, they said their scan machine was not okay that they were fixing it. Then I had some altercation with few of the white doctors we met their, to at least try to stabilise her first so we don’t lose her.

“He however calmed me down, and eventually they fixed the machine and gave us list of thing we should go and buy which we spent a lot of money buying. After which, they finally took her into the theater for surgery at almost midnight the next day. But we thank God it was a very successful surgery

Bigger Complications 

Despite the successful operation carried out, the teenager developed some complications.

“Sadly however, after the surgery, we were informed by the doctor that the bullet penetrated her bladder and large-intestine, hence she can’t store urine nor pass out excreta at the moment normally. They have to fix pipe in her body at the moment to help her out with that, till she is strong enough to undergo a second surgery aimed at rectifying that.

“She is still recovering at the hospital as we speak at the moment and as at Wednesday, February 5, 2020 which the incident happened and now, the school together with her family and family friends, had spent over N200,000 so far.

“For the next phase of the surgery I just confirmed from the father minutes ago that they would need about N300,000, and this doesn’t even include discharge fee yet,” the proprietor revealed.  

Family Reacts

Much earlier, THISDAY made a stopover at the victim’s house located at Church Street, Aboru, a suburb of Iyana-Ipaja, where Mariam’s  eldest brother, Wasiu Shobukola, first broke the news of her survival.

He said: “We thank God, she is alive, contrary to what we read in the news this morning. She made it.”

Narrating the preceding incident which led to Mariam’s ordeal, Wasiu said,  “Early on Saturday morning at about 7am, some group of men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), attached to Ile-Epo police station, invaded the community.

“They attacked a motorcycle dealer’s shop in the area who has not yet opened for business for the day and wasn’t even around the vicinity at the time. They broke the locks of his shop and started packing motorcycles into their van.

“Some of them held bottles with both hands while some were armed with guns to scare people away. Bothered about the incident, some youths in the area decided to challenge them, especially since the area wasn’t part of the area that the ban of motorcycle was announced by the government.

“However, instead of granting audience, they began to shoot sporadically into the air. They were more like people on an illegal business to rob the man. This scared everyone away and we began to scamper for safety. This was what eventually resulted to the protest, but it never stopped them.

“They succeeded in carting away the motorcycles but as they were about leaving, they kept on shooting, and that was how one of the bullets hit my sister. It was one of her peers in the area who came to inform us.

“We immediately rushed out, and on getting there, the police was still around and they even cracked their guns on us to chase us away from going close to her helplessly bleeding on the ground.

“Even when my mum started screaming that she was our daughter, they kept pointing their gun at us, but we defied the odds and damned the consequence of whatever happens, and went ahead to rescue her.

“We first took her to Peak Hospital located in the area, but they rejected her. Then we took her to a general hospital in the area where after carrying out x-ray on her, also rejected her but referred us to LASUTH.

“Finally, it was at LASUTH that they commenced her treatment, but not until after we had bought everything they asked of us, did they commence treatment on her at midnight of the next day. It was only God that sustained her life.”

Upon entering the ward which Mariam was being resuscitated at LASUTH, this reporter could not fight his tears at the sight of the Abeokuta-born Mariam, who was generally described as a brilliant, cheerful, quiet and easy going girl, being confined to a sick bed, with several strings attached to her body for various medical purposes.

Though aware of THISDAY’s presence, she could only faintly mumble. However upon speaking with her mother, the picture became clearer that not only was Mariam  the last of six children, but is indeed the apple of her parent’s eye.

As tears slid down her cheeks, her mother, a petty trader, revealed to THISDAY that Mariam was a child with big dreams of one day becoming a major captain in the banking and textile industry someday.

Negligence by Police

For the family, the most painful part is that, the police who perpetrated the act have not even cared enough to show any concern on the matter so far.

According to the proprietor, “they best they did was to go to the hospital and tried to offer the parents N20,000, which they rejected because it solves nothing. We pray the government help us hold the officers that committed this act accountable. No one is above the law.”

On this, Mrs. Shobukola explained that, “after the incident, the DPO of Aboru police station sent two female officers to us. When they came to meet us here at Ikeja, they said they were sent by the DPO to come and investigate the matter. Then they left. The second day, which was Thursday, February 6, one other female officer returned who claimed to be the IPO on the case. I was the one she met. She entered the ward were my daughter was and saw her condition.

“Perhaps moved by that, she said some words of prayers. Eventually, she brought out N20,000 and wanted me to have it. But I rejected it, and asked her to locate her father and give him the money. But the father as well rejected the money because we have spent over N200,000 already at that time, and the money appeared to us as a move by the police to shut us up.”

Her father, Mr. Samuel, a graphic artist, told THISDAY that by the time they were rallying around to save Mariam, “we felt the need the need to have a police report just in case the hospitals requested for it since it was a gunshot incident especially, since none of the officers that committed the act volunteered to follow us to the hospital.

“Hence we sent the headmistress to go to Ile-Epo police station for it. She went there around some minutes to 2pm. Surprisingly, instead of them honouring our request immediately, they detained her for about eight hours. They didn’t release her till about 10pm on that Wednesday night.”

Calls out across to the state Police Spokesperson, DSP Bala Elkana was ignored, same as a subsequent text message sent.

Dealer’s Dilemma 

THISDAY likewise visited the dealer’s shop where the illegal raid occurred, UzoTex Okada Ventures’. The dealer, Mr. Uzor, who was not on seat later revealed in a telephone conversation that though he is yet to ascertain the number of his motorcycles that were whisked away by SARS officials, they carted away over 20 motorcycles in the area and also several phones.

“As I am talking to you now, I don’t think I would ever return to that shop because of the safety of my life. When they arrived, it was my boy that was in the shop. They broke into several dealers shop including mine and started packing our goods (motorcycle) unchallenged. In my estimation, they went away with nothing less than 20 motorcycles that Wednesday, including those of one of my customer who is an Alhaja. They even arrested the Alhaja’s sales boy who was still sleeping. They took him to their office at Ikeja.”

 

Call for Justice

As Mariam continues to recuperate at the hospital, her family are however beckoning on the federal and state government and all well meaning Nigerians to come to their aids, and ensure that justice is served.

More importantly, they called on the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Hakeem Odumosu to wade into the matter and ensure that not only the officers that perpetuated the offence are publicly exposed, but the police commission takes responsibility of the treatment of Mariam and compensate her family in whatever capacity deemed feat.

Speaking with THISDAY, an old friend to the victim’s family who simply identified himself as Alhaji W.A Akala, said the hospital did their best to save Mariam’s life. He however called on the police to show better responsibility.