A young man, Jimoh Isiaka, who joined scores of others in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, to protest against police brutality has been shot dead allegedly by a police officer.
The police have denied shooting at the protesters but there is no evidence any of the protesters was armed with a gun and the police did not say if anyone else was armed with a gun during the protest.
The police have used force to disperse largely peaceful protesters in major Nigerian cities including the capital, Abuja.
Thousands of protesters across Nigeria have been demanding an end to police brutality and called for the scrapping of the notorious police unit, FSARS (Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad).
Officers in the unit have been accused of murder, extortion, harassment, assault and other crimes by several young Nigerians, many of whom narrated their ordeals using the hashtag #EndSARS.
Mr Isiaka was part of the protesters in Ogbomoso on Saturday.
Witnesses told PREMIUM TIMES that the protesters were dispersed with gunshots and teargas as they approached a police building in Owode area of Ogbomoso. One of the bullets hit Mr Isiaka who was rushed to the hospital but later died.
He was buried Saturday evening.
Police Deny Shooting
After the shooting, the police spokesperson in Oyo State, Olugbenga Fadeyi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the police did not shoot at the protesters.
“It was not true (that the police shot). I spoke with the Area Commander and he told me that nothing of such occurred. They did not shoot anybody. The police allowed them to protest for over one hour.
“But, at a point, they wanted yo force themselves into the police station. They only used tear gas to disperse them so that they will not go into the police station and destroy the police station. By the time they have access to the police station, they can go and destroy some things. That was the information I got,” Mr Fadeyi said.
The police later issued a statement insisting their officers only fired tear gas to disperse protesters.
Despite the denial, however, Mr Isiaka died from gunshot wounds.
Governor Makinde reacts
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State Saturday evening confirmed the death of Mr Isiaka.
Mr Makinde, who condemned the shooting, added that seven other protesters were injured.
He said the victim died at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital in Ogbomoso.
“I have received with deep sadness the news of the passing of one of our children, Jimoh Isiaka, who was shot during the ENDSARS protest in Ogbomoso. He later died at Bowen University Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso, earlier today.
“Also, at this same protest, Abdulrasaq Olawale, Oluwadamilare Gbolohunmi, and five other persons sustained injuries and were taken to hospital for treatment.
“This situation is highly regrettable. I have contacted the Commissioner of Police, Oyo State, Nwachukwu Enwonwu, and other relevant agencies, and investigations into what led to the unfortunate incident are still ongoing. I pray that God grants the parents of Jimoh Isiaka the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.
“The ENDSARS protests are a strong indicator of a systemic failure. It is a failure on the part of those who have been constitutionally empowered to protect the citizens. It again calls into question why State Governors are called Chief Security Officers of their state whereas, they do not have the necessary powers to control the police force.
“I will be paying a personal visit to the family of Jimoh Isiaka and I promise to pursue the investigations to a logical conclusion.
“Peaceful protests are a big part of our democratic process. The right to freedom of speech and assembly are guaranteed by our Constitution, and I will never support any attempt to rob citizens of their fundamental human rights.
“I call on all residents of Oyo State to please remain calm. I also call on the Police to allow residents of Oyo State protest peacefully without fear of being assaulted.
“Again, I express my deepest sympathies to the family of Jimoh Isiaka, may his soul rest in peace,” the governor said.
More Protests expected
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday promised police reform, but that has not deterred the protesters who demand that FSARS be scrapped.
The protest has gained traction among Nigerian celebrities, footballers, musicians and even international celebrities like actor John Boyega who have all shown support for the movement in various forms.
In Lagos, the protesters have vowed to continue until FSARS is scrapped.
In Abuja, the police fired tear gas and gunshots to disperse the protesters Saturday evening. They had wanted to continue the protest all night.
The protesters, however, show no sign of giving up and the protest is expected to continue across many Nigerian cities Sunday.