Five persons, including two policemen, reportedly died yesterday in Sagamu during the civil protests against the killing of a Remo Stars player, Tiamiyu Kazeem by an operative of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police.
Also, yesterday, Youth and Sports Minister, Sunday Dare and the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed joined Nigerians in commiserating with the family of Kazeem, who was allegedly pushed out of a moving vehicle by the SARS operative at the weekend. Angered by Kazeem’s death, Sagamu youths, who felt the police were attempting to exonerate their operatives of complicity, took to the streets demanding the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
The protest, however, turned bloody after policemen deployed to quell the situation allegedly opened sporadic fire on protesters, throwing teargas canisters at the crowd.Three civilians were allegedly hit by stray bullets, just as two died on the spot and the third person passed on while being rushed to the hospital.The mob was said to have descended on the policemen, allegedly killing two of them in retaliation, while bonfires were set along major streets causing obstruction of movement.
However, Ogun State Police Commissioner, Kenneth Ebrimson, denied that the policemen opened fire on protesters.He insisted that the cops resisted the use of force despite provocation from miscreants who took advantage of the protest.“Not a single bullet was fired by policemen. I am in Sagamu as I speak to you. We have since addressed the protesters and calmed them down. They dispersed quietly. What happened is that some miscreants tried to take the opportunity of the protest to cause trouble in the state.
“They were the ones who tried to burn down the police station but we dispersed them. We did not fire any shot despite the provocation from them. We know some people were trying to push the police to the wall so that they will say see what has happened. That was why there was strict instruction on the men not to use force.
“We have taken control of the situation. The responsible protesters were addressed and assured that the team that arrested the footballer was already in detention and undergoing internal disciplinary actions.“We did not arrest anyone because as it is, we are applying diplomacy to avoid escalating issues. We have said it before that the policemen that arrested him are not SARS operatives. They were of the Zonal Intervention Squad and have been arrested,” he said.
Commenting on the incident, Dare warned that the needless profiling and killings of Nigerian youth must be checked as its capable of depriving the country of the contribution of its vibrant youth. “The death of the young player of Remo Stars, Tiamiyu Kazeem, is unfortunate and unwarranted,” Dare lamented.“While I sympathise with his family, Remo Stars and the entire football fraternity, his death must not be swept under the carpet. I therefore call on the police high command to probe this unfortunate incident and bring the culprit to book. We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of lives and the police must understand the sanctity of lives.
“Those paid to protect the citizens should not be the ones snuffing lives out of them.”Dare insists that though probing the incident will not restore the dead to life, a clear message must be sent by making the perpetrators account for their evil deeds.In his reaction to the incident, the Inspector General of Police, Adamu Mohammed ordered the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Anthony Ogbizi to, with immediate effect, take over investigations into the circumstances surrounding the death of Remo Stars’ assistant captain.
Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank MBA, who disclosed this in Abuja, noted that IGP gave the order while reviewing daily reports of major crime incidents across the country.
“Meanwhile, the IGP while commiserating with the family and friends of the deceased, calls for calm and assures that justice will be done in the matter, reiterating that any person found culpable will be brought to book.”Meanwhile, the family of the slain footballer has asked the Ogun State government to ensure that his killers are brought to justice.
It also refuted the preliminary reports on the killing released by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), maintaining that he was killed last Saturday by a policeman (SARS) attached to the Ogun Command.Speaking through their Lawyers and the family spokesman, Adegbesan Adenola, Ogunsanmi Abisoye, and Ganiyu Tiyamiyu respectively in a statement, the family said the denial by the Police was only meant to exonerate the policeman alleged to have committed the offence.
The spokesman said, “This story is not only false, but concocted lies and a foundation for the normal conspiracy theory used in exonerating erring police officers at best to be suspended or dismissed, but never to face the full wrath of the law.
“Without further ado, let’s set the records straight and reject in his entirety this falsehood circulating within our media space painting a good citizen of this country as a villain rather than a hero, even to his grave. Tiyamiyu Kazeem is a professional footballer currently signed to Remo Stars in Sagamu and on this faithful day he was in a shop buying groceries when some SARS officers grabbed him and pushed him into their Sienna bus.Tiyamiyu alleged that the SARS operatives stopped the vehicle transporting them and the two people arrested, adding, “The deceased was questioning the SARS officers on the reason for his illegal arrest.
“He was pushed down from the car and got hit instantly by a vehicle and somersaulted to the other side of the road. Immediately after the accident, he was still breathing and was rushed to a hospital at Obafemi Owode before he was moved to another hospital in Ipara.
“This was contrary to the advice and protest by his team mate that Kaka should be taken straight to the Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital for proper treatment. While on their way to the hospital at Ipara, the Sienna bus used for the illegal operation absconded and while at the hospital, Kaka finally gave up the ghost,” he said.He further said that the allege killer was apprehended by some of the hospital’s staff and handed over to the police.
“Contrary to the claim by the police that the deceased was always dressed in military uniform, he was not in any military uniform neither has he ever worn any military uniform.“There are a lot of questions begging for answers on the mode and procedure of the arrest that will be addressed in the course of trial.’’The family said Kaka’s murder was a premeditated murder of a young, promising and rising star by some lawless and reckless SARS officers.
It added that such officers had been parading and acting with impunity all over the country.
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