by Akan Ido
A policeman attached to the Bariga Police Division in Lagos has been arrested for killing a young man identified as Banji Lawunmi.
Inspector Smart Osadolor was arrested for shooting Lawunmi during a fight between rival youth groups on Iyeleke Street in the Bariga.
“Lawunmi died about three weeks ago. On the day of the incident, two groups of cultists who routinely go round the Bariga community, harassing building developers and other businesses for levies, received N250, 000. The money was paid by a man who had recently started work on his parcel of land as practised all over Lagos. After collecting the money, a minor disagreement arose over the sharing of the money. Before we knew it, the two groups had started fight,” a resident said, on condition of anonymity.
During the fight between the opposing groups, residents of the area reportedly called the police with Inspector Osadolor and another unidentified policemen responding to the distress call.
The groups were reported to have set upon the two policemen as they arrived the scene of the violence with Osadolor shooting into the unruly crowd to disperse them.
Another resident of the area narrated the sequence of events saying, “Immediately Osadolor got down from his motorcycle and approached the crowd, they rushed at him. Frightened, his colleague turned and fled, leaving the inspector alone to face the unruly youths. In an attempt to disperse the crowd, Osadolor fired a shot, which unfortunately hit Lawunmi in the neck. The cultists ran away from the scene.
“Osadolor then helped Lawunmi onto his bike and was about to take him to the police station when more cultists arrived. This time, they were able to drag Osadolor from his motorcycle. Lawunmi was still alive at the time. The cultists attacked Osadolor with bottles and other sharp objects. When they tried to take his gun from him, he fired another shot. With the assistance of a commercial motorcyclist, he was able to escape to a private hospital nearby for treatment. Osadolor was arrested at the hospital by the DPO who was informed that one of his men was being lynched for killing someone.”
The victim was rushed to the Ikeja General Hospital where he later died due to excessive loss of blood.
Angered by Lawunmi’s death, the youths of the community reportedly marched to the police station in Bariga with the intention of burning it.
“If not for the combined effort of police teams from the Area H command and Op Messa, the situation would have degenerated to a riot. After he was arrested at the hospital, Osadolor was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti,” Ola said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Deputy Superintendent Ngozi Braide was not available to confirm the arrest.