Tragedy struck on Raufu Alajo Street, Agege, Lagos, on Wednesday when a 19-year-old bus conductor, Sulaimon Balla, was burnt to death in an abandoned mini bus.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Balla slept in the bus which had been abandoned on the street for weeks on Tuesday night.
It was gathered that street urchins in the area usually spend the night in the bus which suddenly went up in flames about 2am.
A resident of the area, Rafiu Durojaiye, said Balla was burnt beyond recognition.
He said, “The bus suddenly caught fire about 2am. The fire was extinguished about 4am because we had difficulty getting water.
“We didn’t initially know that someone had slept in the bus when we set out to put out the fire. It was when the fire had been extinguished that we discovered that somebody slept in it.
“He was burnt beyond recognition and he was identified by a portion of his shirt which had not been torched by fire.”
However, Balla’s friend, Michael Sobande, said he suspected foul play.
He said, “We have been sleeping in that vehicle for over seven weeks now and I can’t fathom how a diesel engine bus will suddenly go up in flames if not that it was deliberately set on fire.
“I sensed that something sinister might happen anytime soon. I dreamt some days ago that I was tied down in that same vehicle and since then I stopped sleeping inside it. I told him about it and I don’t know why he returned there.”
It was however learnt that Balla’s corpse had been retrieved and buried before the police got to know about the incident.
When our correspondent visited the scene of the incident on Wednesday, he was attacked by some miscreants, who tore his note pad and forcibly deleted all the pictures of the burnt bus in his phone.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, confirmed the incident to our correspondent on the phone.
She said, “The incident was reported at the Isokoko Police Division by a community leader. Investigations by the police revealed that the victim was an area boy who slept around in uncompleted buildings and abandoned vehicles.
“The deceased has been buried and the family members who came to the police station said they don’t want a case and as it is, our hands are tied.”