Oyetola condemns shooting of journalist, citizens by police as NUJ, CSOs seek redeployment of Osun CP

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Uba Group

Uba Group

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO

Osun State Governor, Gboyega Oyetola, the Nigeria Union of Journalists and Civil Society Organisations have condemned the shooting of a journalist and school children by men of the state police command on Tuesday.

No fewer than three persons have been allegedly shot by a team of detectives of the Osun State Police Command on Tuesday during a protest by some aggrieved youths in Osogbo, the state capital.

Live bullets that were allegedly shot by the heavily armed policemen hit the state correspondent of the Nation newspaper, Toba Adedeji and two pupils who were said to be returning from school.

Some youths had converged at the popular Olaiya flyover in Osogbo to protest the alleged killing of a youth, Abiola Afolabi by some policemen in the state in April.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Yemisi Opalola, had said Afolabi was an armed robber and that he had been ill while in the police custody before he was rushed to a hospital where Afolabi died.

Afolabi’s relations and some youths in the state had taken the deceased to Ilesa town on Tuesday where he was buried amid sobs and accusations of attempts by the police to sweep the matter under the carpet.

Some mournful-looking youths had assembled at Olaiya in Osogbo after leaving Ilesa to protest alleged extrajudicial killing of Afolabi. The protesters had caused traffic snarl on the busy road.

At about 2:00pm on Tuesday, some armed police officers arrived the scene of the peaceful protest and started shooting live bullets directly at protesters, journalists and other passersby.

They also descended on other citizens in the area and gave some of them a hot chase while many were molested after being brutalised. The journalist (Toba) was shot on the right leg while the two pupils, a boy and a girl, apparently returning from school, were also said to have been injured.

Meanwhile, Adedeji was rushed to the Osun State University Teaching Hospital Complex, Osogbo while one of the pupils was said to have been rushed to the State Hospital, Asubiaro, Osogbo, by a commercial motorcycle operator.

When our correspondent visited the State Hospital, it was learnt that the pupil had been referred to Our Lady at Fatima Catholic Hospital, Jaleyemi, Osogbo. But it was discovered that the pupil never got to the hospital.

Speaking, one of the protesters, Henry Ojo said they were peacefully protesting the alleged killing of Afolabi before the policemen attacked them and started shooting live bullets and firing teargas to disperse them.

“We were at Olaiya protesting peacefully the killing of Abiola Afolabi by men of the Osun State Police Command and suddenly, some policemen stormed the scene and started shooting at us. They shot live bullets at us and other people in the area. A journalist and two school children were hit by the bullets,” Ojo said.

But some sources said the two pupils were hit by some motorcyclists who were trying to take cover when the policemen opened fire on citizens.

Few minutes after, another journalist, Fatai Usman, who was at the scene of the protest was arrested by some policemen from Dugbe Police Division for allegedly covering the protest and taking pictures.

There was confusion at the Dugbe Police Station, Osogbo, when journalists, civil rights activists and other concerned citizens left the hospital where Toba was receiving treatment and stormed the police station.

“CBN"

The Divisional Police Officer, Mr Akinloye Oyegade, said the journalist was only invited for questioning. It took the efforts of other journalists and civil rights activists before Usman was set free alongside three protesters who were earlier arrested.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Osun State Council has condemned the development and called for the immediate redeployment of state Commissioner of Police, Olawale Olokode.

A statement by the Chairman of the council, Comrade Wasiu Ajadosu and Secretary, Comrade Bukola Elufadejin, gave the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, a seven-day ultimatum to redeploy Olokode on grounds of gross indiscipline and unprofessional conduct of the men and officers of the command.

The statement further called on Alkali to take this urgent step in order to save the state from incessant unrest and crisis due to lackadaisical approach to sensitive issues of security by the leadership of the command

The statement described the action of the officers of the command as unfortunate, barbaric, uncivilized and demeaning, especially in a democratic environment where citizens possess the rights to ventilate their grievances through protest.

The union noted that it would no longer condole harassment, intimidation of its members, saying over five members of the union had been attacked by the police in the last three months.

Also, the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, condemned in strongest terms, the shooting of Adedeji, and another citizen and said “shooting at unarmed citizens was completely unacceptable, irresponsible and condemnable, adding that the sad incident could have been avoided.”

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, Governor Oyetola noted that it was unfortunate that the sad incident occurred while the citizens were mourning the death of a loved one.

The Osun Civil Societies Coalition has called for the removal of the state Commissioner of Police. According to the OCSC, Olokode has demonstrated incompetence in the management of security of lives and property of the people of the state, with total disregard to the fundamental human rights of the people.

The Chairman of the society, Comrade Waheed Lawal, in a press statement issued on Tuesday, accused Olokode of inability to manage policemen under him, saying the police in Osun have not learnt from the #EndSARS protest.