Penultimate Thursday, Felix Monday Udotim, a trader who went to Aspanda market at Trade fair complex on Mile Two – Badagry Expressway, Lagos to buy some goods to replenish his stocks, alleges that he escaped death by the whiskers when a trigger happy policeman attached to patrol van 502, Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Lagos police command opened fire on a commuter bus he was travellinging and shot him at the neck and hand.
From the trade fair complex, he had boarded a commercial bus going to Iyana Iba in Ojo from where he would trans-load to another vehicle going to his shop at Abule Egba. According to him, the driver of the 16-seater commuter bus, because he did get enough passengers to fill the vehicle from where it took off, was stopping to pick passengers along the way. In doing that, he was stopping and picking passengers at unauthorized places.
“As he was doing that, through his side mirror, he sighted Rapid Response Squad police patrol van. The occupants, who were policemen drove recklessly and tried to block us and probably impound the vehicle for picking passengers from unapproved spots. In a bid to evade arrest, the driver drove off speedily. It was then that I heard the policemen shouting:
“You want to run? Okay run! The next we heard was sound of gunshots.” Udotim said the policemen shot into the vehicle, wounding the conductor and himself. ”Frst, it was the conductor and then I. I was trying to help the conductor who was hit by a bullet when another hit my neck and hand. The blood that was oozing out from my neck stained other passengers sitting beside me.
“ As soon as the driver realized that the police had shot his passenger and the conductor, he stopped the vehicle to attend to the wounded while the police who realized the disaster they had committed sped off and never bothered to arrest the driver or impound his vehicle.” Udotim narrated.
According to him, one of the passengers, Igwe, “removed my shirt and used it to tie my neck to stop the blood. I was rushed to Ojo police station to make a report and as well as get a police case request for medical treatment and report. They drove us away.” He said the station told them that the patrol van was not from their office and moreover, that they should report whatever incident they had at the Trade Fair police station, where they (police at Ojo) believed had the jurisdiction over the place that the incident happened.
Trade fair police station also rebuffed him, telling him that, “such patrol van was not from them.” They however gave him a letter and directed him to Nigerian Naval Reference Hospital in Ojo.
“ Initially the Nigerian Naval Reference Hospital refused to attend to us with the excuse that it was the police, who were the suspects, were supposed to bring me to the hospital. After much pleading, my son signed an undertaking and they commenced treatment. X-rays were done and the doctor confirmed that slugs were in my neck. They said that I was lucky that some of the bullets slit past my neck and hand. I was told that my wound would heal”
Udotim, who is recuperating from the gunshots, laments that the police have refused to accept responsibility. He claims to have spent N50,000 since the incident occurred. “ I have spent about N50,000 since that incident occurred and because of the distance to where I live, I hired a nurse who comes on daily basis to dress the wounds.”
When Saturday Sun asked him if he could recognize the policemen, he said, “ I did not see their faces, I only heard their voices when they were threatening to shoot if the driver refuses to stop. The only thing I can recognize is their RRS vehicle that was inscribed with 502 on its side and it was at about 1.30pm. They escaped when they realized that someone was hit by the incident. Even at the police station, we heard that this type of case is very common.”
An eyewitness, Igwe, who spoke with Saturday Sun, said they were terrified when they heard the gunshots. “It was a terrible experience when the police opened fire at us. The conductor was badly hit, while Mr. Felix (Udotim) was also hit. I managed to take him to the hospital where his life was saved.”
When reporters visited Area E Festac of Lagos police command that is in charge of police divisions where the incident happened, the Command said it could not have been carried out by their men and noted that RRS also comes from Ikeja patrol the area.
When contacted on phone, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Lagos Command, Jaiyejoba Joseph, said he was not aware of the incident and pledged to investigate it to fish out those responsible. That is, according to him, if they were policemen.