Three policemen attached to the Sango Otta Police Station in Ogun State on Saturday evening caused a commercial bus to hit a waiting passenger, killing her.
The policemen were making an illegal demand of N50, which the driver was not willing to pay.
Eye witnesses told SaharaReporters the incident occurred at about 8.30pm on Saturday at the foot of Sango bridge, which runs in front of the police station.
They said the three policemen, who have not been identified, harassed the driver into a dangerous speed which led to his hitting the passenger, who was waiting for a bus. The victim, who began to bleed profusely, was ignored by the policemen as they continued to chase the bus to collect the N50 they were trying to extort from the driver.
One of the witnesses, a trader who sells electronics at the POWA shopping complex attached to the police station, disclosed that it was not unusual or the policemen to harass innocent drivers at the bus stop to collect their illegal N50 charge or to hijack busses from commercial operators for their own purposes.
“It is not new. They do this every time, scaring bus drivers with guns to extort N50 from them. Sometimes they hijack buses whenever they see one that is empty so that they use it to operate deceptively and extort other buses,” the witness said.
The victim, identified simply as Mrs. Lawal, reportedly bled for more than one hour before a passer-by who recognized her sent a message to her children. One of them hurried to the scene with his friends to find his mother dying helplessly.
The deceased’s son, Mr. Feyi Lawal, told our correspondent that his friends who went to the scene with him assisted to take his mother to Rubi hospital, a private medical center near the accident scene. They were however later referred to the government’s “General hospital” due to the severity of her injuries.
Feyi said his mother gave up just before she could receive any treatment at the General hospital.
A female police officer who attended to Feyi and his friends at the station on Sunday when they visited to make report, took Feyi’s statement but denied him the right to include in the statement a complaint about the police harassment which led to the accident, which was written down by herself.
Writing the statement by herself, she claimed it was a ‘hit-and-run’ driver. All witnesses however debunked claims by the police, insisting that the accident was caused by extortionist policemen.
“They are always the first to come out and help victims of accidents, but because they caused this one themselves, they hid their faces in their station and left the victim to die,” said an eyewitness.
“It is either they wanted to take his bus for their illegal operation or they wanted their usual illegal N50. But it is most likely they wanted to take his bus because I noticed the bus was empty,” another witness said.
He added that the bus drove dangerously in order to escape the gun-wielding policemen. He also alluded to another recent occasion where a police officer accidentally shot bullet on himself in a delicate point near his own jugular after hitting his service gun on a bus conductor in demanding N50.
On that incident, he pointed out that the policeman was negligently using his gun to hit the bus conductor, somehow oblivious of the fact that its nuzzle was close to his own throat. The gun accidently fired, and the bullet allegedly shattered the neck of the police officer. According to him, colleagues of the erring police officer then arrested the conductor, although he was clearly innocent.
Said a woman who trades in front of the police station, “I really don’t know why, but the police own vans which officers could use for their operations; why force buses that are working on their own to do illegal police operation?”
The witnesses also said policemen in Sango Otta are notorious for arresting people who have committed no offences, only take them to the station and demand bail money and “DPO’s fee” of N5,000.
“They work with touts under the bridge. Those touts also arrest people that urinate and demand bail. But we are surprised that they won’t arrest those polluting the wall with ruling party’s posters since they claim they are arresting polluters,” another witness volunteered, pointing at the walls of the bridge littered with campaign posters of the ruling party in Ogun State, the All Progressives Congress.
“They are all thugs; the government agencies, police and the touts. They work together to harrass people,” asserted a resident, who pleaded anonymity.
“Well, Sango has become more notorious. But what we fear even most now is the police because they can kill for just N50,” another resident at Temidire bus stop said.
A citizen journalist was arrested in Sango during the period that the bridge was under construction. The young journalist was taking photograph of policemen who were seizing bikes for no offence and extorting them.
Although there are conflicting views as to whether the police eventually arrested the vehicle that was chased into a waiting crowd, sources close to the station unanimously agreed that the police would merely demand money from the driver if they get him, and then shield him from families of the deceased.
Some members of the family of Mrs. Lawal have indicated that they may sue the police over her death.
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