“Most times, they don’t go on uniform. They hijack commercial bus. Once they see you driving, they believe you are into illegal deals”.
Dozens of youth in Festac Town, Lagos, who were protesting the brutal killing of a resident by a police officer, Wednesday, dispersed midway into their march after learning they could be shot at by the police.
Oyamo Edewor, 33, was fatally shot on Saturday night by a police sergeant attached to the Festac Area Command.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the police officer, who had been identified as Godwin Otene, has been arrested and transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti.
The death of Mr. Edowor, a contractor, was seen as one killing too many and elicited outrage among the youth who, via Blackberry Messenger, scheduled a “solidarity” protest on Wednesday.
The protest notice read in part: “We have had series of police oppression and killings. This must STOP!!! We alone can only STOP this unlawful and unjustified killings of our youths by police officers, because it can happen to anyone of us. Please we urge everyone to please come out in large numbers and join the protest. We must have JUSTICE!!!…
“Our voices ‘MUST BE HEARD’ & #NEVERAGAIN shall we loose (sic) any of our loved ones.”
On Wednesday morning, the youth converged at the Federal Housing Authority playground in Festac town to begin the protest.
“We are protesting against the killing of an innocent guy who his family are looking up to. People who should be protecting lives are the people killing us,” said Dele Fasan, a resident.
“When police officers get drunk on duty, they use assault rifles, is that the kind of police we want to have?”
Another youth, Kayode Quadri, said that police harassment of young men in Festac town was assuming a frightening dimension.
“Most times, they don’t go on uniform. They hijack commercial bus. Once they see you driving, they believe you are into illegal deals,” Mr. Quadri added.
Dressed in black and bearing placards, the youth said that they would march through the scene of Mr. Edewor’s shooting to the police Area Command and be addressed by the police.
Sultan Adeniji-Adele, a lawmaker representing Amuwo Odofin local council at the Lagos State House of Assembly, who joined the protesters, said that the erring police officer would be made to face justice.
“It’s a really sad event. It’s been occurring time without numbers in Amuwo Odofin, especially in Festac town and it’s high time we put a stop to it,” Mr. Adeniji-Adele said.
“I, personally, know the Nigeria Police Force to be a disciplined organization, but in every organization, we have the bad eggs. Bad eggs like this should be fished out and dealt with.
“And this is why we are going to make sure it never happens again.”
The lawmaker also said that the House of Assembly had set up a committee to look into the incident with a view to ensuring that justice is done.
The protesters walked silently through 2nd Avenue to the scene of the incident where one pair of the deceased’s slippers was still lying on the ground.
“The kind of youth you see here today are not any kind of youth,” Mr. Adeniji-Adele said.
“We have high and calibre youth here. If you see around you will see people who are well dressed, people who are well mannered. We are going to make sure we will use all our last blood to fight this matter,” he added.
Mid-way into the march towards the Police Area Command, some of the youth suggested that the procession terminate at the home of the deceased to avoid violence.
A heated argument ensued.
Mr. Adeniji-Adele said that if the protesters insist on heading to the police command, he would turn back.
“Miscreants will hijack it (the protest) before we get there (police Command). Somebody will throw a stone or bottle and before you know it, police will fire back.
“Go to the house of the deceased, from there everybody disperse,” Mr. Adeniji-Adele said.
One of the youth responded: “If we are going to his (the deceased) house, there is no need. We need to make a statement by going to the police station.”
The argument was settled when one of the youth, who said he hated “anybody in uniform,” attacked a passing Man O’ War officer.
The protesters ditched their placards and went home.