By Oladeinde Olawoyin
Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) yesterday, threw caution to the winds and opened fire in the full glare of everyone at the Hausa Market in Olomoore axis of Abeokuta, hitting two of the traders who were said to have died from the gun wounds.
To register their grievances, hundreds of Hausa traders in the ancient Egba City of Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, trooped to the street, protesting the “unprovoked killing” of two of their kinsmen by the police officers.
The angry protesters, who blocked the ever busy Abeokuta – Sango – Oshodi expressway with bonfires made from disused tyres, also prevented vehicular movements from connecting the Lafenwa Market from Olomoore Junction where they violently smashed windscreens of cars, taxis, buses and other motorists who dare cross their path during the protest that lasted over five hours.
Commercial activities were also paralysed for the early hours of yesterday at the Lafenwa and Olomoore markets, with other traders also scampering for safety so as not to be caught in the crisis, while SARS operatives who allegedly ignited the crisis, also hurriedly disappeared from the scene.
It was gathered that the pandemonium broke out when the SARS operatives allegedly invaded and opened fire at some fleeing suspected cultists and internet fraudsters who ran into the market in Olomoore.
news men Friday gathered that stray bullets fired by the SARS operatives hit two young Hausa traders, one of whom was said to have died instantly due to head injuries he sustained from the gun shot, while the other hit in the legs by the stray bullets, fell unconsciously.
The development however, infuriated other Hausa traders who argued that it was wrong for the police officers from SARS unit to have opened fire within the market.
Speaking with news men Friday at the scene of the protest, one of the Hausa leaders in the market, who identified himself as Audu, head of the fish dealers, identified the two Hausa traders shot as Abati, son of the Seriki Fulani of the Rounder Abeokut area in Abeokuta, while the second victim was identified as Umaru, “who came from Yobe State.
“They are pepper dealers in Olomore Market. They are now in the hospital: one of them Abati died in the hospital. I can’t say whether the other one (Umaru) is dead or not.”
Commenting on the development, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Abimbola Oyeyemi said the victims are not dead but receiving treatment at the State Hospital in Ijaiye, Abeokuta.
Emphasising that the police officers involved in the incident were operatives of the Anti-Cultism and not SARS, the PPRO explained that some hoodlums had swooped on the police officers who were responding to distress call in the area and prevented them from going away with some suspects arrested.
“I want to correct an impression because I have read online that it is as a result of police chasing some called yahoo boys and that was why they fired into the market. That is not true and that is not the position of the case. They were not running after any yahoo boys.
“We are yet to ascertain what actually caused the initial fracas, but investigation is going to reveal that. What actually happened today was that our men at Lafenwa division received an information early in the morning by members of the public that there are some fracas at Olomore area. As a result of that, the DPO Lafenwa division mobilise some of his team and they went straight to the place. One of the team that followed him to the place is anti-cultist team. On getting there, they were able to calm the situation down and they arrested four suspects among those who were causing troubles in that place.
“As the police were about to move with the suspects, some hoodlums swooped on them that they are not going to take those people away and in a bid to scare those people away, one of the anti-cultist men fired into the air and unfortunately a stray bullet hit two men. The men have been rushed to the hospital and they are responding to treatment”.
Oyeyemi further explained that the police officer, who allegedly fired the shot at the Olomoore market has been arrested and currently undergoing interrogation at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligent Department (SCIID), stressing that the state Commissioner of Police, Kenneth Ebrimso has ordered a full-scale investigation into the case.