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Nigerian Police Officer's Stray Bullet Kills Petty Trader In Lagos

A police officer shot and killed a petty trader identified as Kudirat Adebayo as the office reportedly was chasing suspected “Yahoo boys," a term that refers to Internet scam artists. Eyewitnesses said the officers then left the woman's corpse on the spot. 

The tragic incident happened yesterday near a railway line at Onipanu bus stop. Our correspondent, who spoke to several eyewitnesses, said the victim, Ms. Adebayo, was at her makeshift shed frying the yams she sold for a living when the bullet hit her. 

One eyewitness told our correspondent that three policemen were trying to arrest two men on a bike whom they suspected to be fraudsters. As the officers argued with the suspects, one of them freed himself from an officer's grip and took to his heels. The police officer gave chase, and then started shooting, the source said. 

Another eyewitness named Adenike Fatai told Saharareporters that a team of officers from the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) had their van parked close to the scene of the shooting, but did not intervene.  

"The RRS squad looked on while the incident happened," said the source. According to her, another man on a bike who informed one of the police officers that a woman had been shot, the police aimed a gun at the man's leg and shot, injuring him.

The son of the deceased, Ayomide Adebayo, expressed dismay about the way the Olosan Police division treated his mother's corpse. He alleged that the police took his mother's corpse to the Mainland Hospital morgue, but did not instruct that her remains be preserved. 

Mr. Adebayo said when he expressed his displeasure to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at Olosan police station, he was told that some other officers had collected N50,000 to pay for his mother's embalmment.

“The Olosan police officers brought my mother to the morgue and abandoned her. The attendants at the hospital told us they only paid N5, 000 to keep her in the morgue," said the deceased woman's son. 

He explained that only a man named Seye Oladejo had come to the aid of the late woman's family. 

Mr. Adebayo told our correspondent that three of the police officers had been arrested and detained, adding that the officer whose bullet killed his mother was on the run.  

"I was not at the scene when my mother was killed, but people who were there have told me that none of the three officers in detention was the one who shot her," said Mr. Adekunle. 

He added that the police were, in fact, disputing that it was one of their officers who shot his mother. He said, "Until they remove the bullet from her head and check it, they won’t accept that it was their officer that shot my mother."

However, eyewitnesses at the scene insisted that the petty trader was felled by a stray bullet shot by one of the police officers. 

Residents in the area of the tragedy told a correspondent of Saharareporters that the police had made a habit of randomly picking up people in the area and accusing them of being fraudsters. 

“Once you dress well on this street, you are not safe. The police can arrest you and accuse you of being a yahoo boy. They pick people on the road as they like," said a middle aged man. 

The residents said the police officers involved in the tragic scuffle that killed Ms. Adebayo were notorious for harassing passersby. 

“These three policemen always come to this street. They harass people and collect N100 from bike men. That is the only thing they do here,” one of the residents said. 

Another woman who sells akara close to the scene of the shooting said the street used to be violent because of incessant clashes between two factions of “area boys," but added that the fights has since stopped. 

Members of the late Ms. Adebayo's family said they would like to bury her as soon as possible. However, they stated that the complicated process of getting an autopsy and removing the bullet lodged in the woman's head might delay the burial arrangements.