A 2015 graduate of Kwara State Polytechnic, Ekwere Imoh, has been shot by policemen attached to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, Oyo State Police Command.
The policemen also shot a female friend of his, identified simply as Doris, who was with him.
The incident took place at the Bodija Market area of Ibadan, Oyo State, on Saturday.
The graduate of Business Administration, who runs a mobile boutique in Ibadan, was hit on the lower part of the right leg, just above the ankle. Doris was also hit in the same position of her right leg.
The victims, who declined to show their faces in the pictures taken by our correspondent, are receiving treatment at the emergency ward of the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
When our correspondent visited the two at the hospital on Sunday, Imoh said a vehicle conveying him and three other friends was coming from the University of Ibadan end of the city when they suddenly heard a gunshot fired by SARS men in front of the Bodija Market.
He claimed that the vehicle was not stopped before the shot was fired.
Imoh said, “We were four in the vehicle and we are all friends. We were approaching Bodija from the UI end around 9.30pm when it happened.
“Earlier, I had called Doris at exactly 9.17pm to join me at the UI gate. As we approached the bend in front of Bodija Market, just before the railway crossing, we saw that some SARS men had mounted a checkpoint there.
“I was at the back of the car with Doris. I was making a call when we passed by the policemen, who did not signal us to stop.
“Suddenly, we heard a gunshot. The bullet hit the back door of our car. It pierced through and lodged in my leg. Metal pieces from where the bullet passed through the car door hit Doris in the leg too. There was blood everywhere. She started shouting; we were all petrified.
“The driver stopped the car a few metres from where the SARS officers shot at us. The policemen did not approach our car.
“What came to my mind was how our lives would be saved. I saw the head of the bullet from the other side of my leg and I could feel the whole bullet in my leg. We rushed to a nearby hospital in Bodija, but we were not treated. They requested a police report before we could be treated. An older relative came to the hospital and we went back to Bodija but the men had gone. We proceeded to the Bodija Police Station. The policemen on duty said no one from the station mounted a checkpoint at the point where we were shot. They took us to the UCH and we got there around 10 pm. They were with us until around 2 am.”
Imoh said he had yet to let his mother know about the shooting because of the trauma she would experience. He also wondered what would have happened to his mother and family of Doris if they had died.
“I have dreadlocks but they are natural. I have never been involved in any criminal activity and I have never been arrested. I am still wondering what would have happened if the bullet had hit any of us in the body. I have never been shot at, put on a drip or admitted to a hospital. In fact, since I moved to Ibadan in 2011, this is my first time of entering the UCH,” said Imoh.
However, the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, Adekunle Ajisebutu, who confirmed the shooting, said the policemen shot at the car after the driver refused to stop when asked to do so.
He explained that the tyre of the vehicle was targeted, adding that the bullet ricocheted and hit the door of the car. According to him, the victims were taken to the hospital and treated.
Ajisebutu, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, said there was no truth in the social media report that the shooting was as a result of the driver’s refusal to give money to the police when they demanded it.
“The men had mounted a stop-and-search point at the scene. When the car approached, they stopped the driver, but he refused to stop. Because of frequent car theft in the state and police determination to put an end to it, the men thought the car was snatched. They had wanted to shoot at the tyre, but the bullet ricocheted and hit the car door.
“They were later taken to the hospital and treated. However, the state Commissioner of police, Abiodun Odude, has ordered a full investigation into what actually happened.
“SARS men have been doing wonderful work to bust car snatching and other criminal gangs in the state. They could not have deliberately shot at the occupants of the car,” the PPRO said.