Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta
Ogun State Police Command thursday confirmed that its men shot at two male pepper sellers at the Olomore market in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, but said that it was stray bullets that hit the victims.
There was pandemonium in the state capital thursday, as residents of the Olomore area poured into the streets to protest what they described as “unwarranted police brutality.”
Initial reports indicated that the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) operatives from the police command chased some suspected internet fraudsters, otherwise known as Yahoo Boys, to a hideout in the area, and started shooting indiscriminately in the process.
A source in the market told THISDAY that two men were hit by the police bullets; one of them on the head, and that he was feared dead.
The victims, said to be Hausa traders, could not be identified at press time.
But reacting while speaking with journalists thursday, the Public Relations Officer, Ogun State Police Command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said it was not true that SARS men came to the market, hunting for Yahoo Boys.
“What happened is that we got a report that there was fracas at the Olomore area and the Police Commissioner, who was far away in Sagamu, promptly directed the Area Commander to take charge and the Divisional Police Officer of the Lafemwa Divison in charge of the area promptly sent men of the Anti-Cultism Team to the location.
“It was not also true that it was the SARS men that went to the area, as people often mistake any uniformed man in black as SARS policeman.
“When they got there and put the situation under control, some suspects were arrested but some hoodlums tried to prevent the police from taking the suspects away.
“It was in the process that the police shot into the air to scare the people away, but a stray bullet injured two people and those affected have been taken to the hospital for treatment.
“Also, the two policemen involved in the shooting have been arrested while investigations into the matter continue,” Oyeyemi clarified.
However, one of the residents of the area who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity, disputed police’s claim, and called on the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Kenneth Ebrimson, to call his men to order, “in the face of frequent police harassment and brutality that have pervaded Ogun State in recent time.”