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Mistaken identity: Police kill trader during operation


Policemen attached to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad have been accused of killing a 46-year-old petty trader in Ijaye-Ojokoro, Lagos State.

In a report by the Punch,  the deceased, Eze Okoro, was killed last Friday while the policemen were on an anti-robbery operation.

The deceased’s wife ,Ugonna, alleged that the policemen snuffed out the life of Eze few metres from his residence at 1 Oguntolu Street, Ijaiye-Ojokoro.

Ugonna said her husband of over 15 years had just finished eating and had gone to relax with a neighbour, Chinedu Nnwanu, and his pregnant wife, Nneka as he usually did when there was power outage at night.

She said, “My husband had just finished having dinner and he stepped outside to see our neighbours who live opposite our house. They usually relax outside whenever there is power outage.

“A few minutes before 11pm, we heard sporadic gunshots and out of panic, I held unto my seven-year-old son and ran for cover. Few minutes later when the shooting abated, I tried to reach my husband on his mobile phone but he was not picking it up.”

Ugonna said at that point she started to imagine that something was amiss.

“I summoned courage and stepped out of the compound and immediately noticed that my husband and his friends were not at the spot. I started yelling out my husband’s name but there was no answer,” she said.

She said after some time, some neighbours informed her that from their windows, they observed some policemen carrying a man whom they suspected was lifeless into their vehicle.

In a state of confusion, she was able to pull a call through to some of her siblings and that of her husband who immediately formed a search party for their relation and the policemen who were alleged to have taken away the body

She said they visited the Ijaye-Ojokoro Police Station under whose jurisdiction the incident occurred but all attempts to locate her husband proved abortive.

“Our search that night failed to yield the expected result as the officers on duty claimed that no such incident was ever reported to them neither had any team of policemen told them that they were operating in the area,” she said.

Eze’s widow said the following day, some employees of a hotel in the area told her that the policemen who had come to operate the previous night were from the Federal SARS.

She said she was told by a senior officer that her husband was killed in error and that his corpse had been taken to Yaba Military Hospital’s morgue.

“On getting to Federal SARS command, some junior officers apparently wanting to cover up their colleagues’ error denied the command’s complicity in the killing. However, a senior officer intervened by not only admitting that they killed Eze in error, but informed that his corpse was deposited at the Yaba Military Hospital’s morgue,” she said.

A resident, who craved anonymity, said the policemen had also attempted to kill others in the area after mistaking them for robbers but Eze was the only unfortunate person.

He said, “When the shooting started, Eze and his friends were running helter-skelter. The policemen first of all approached Nneka but she immediately shouted ‘please don’t shoot me, I am pregnant’. That was how she and her husband were spared.

“After Nneka and Chinedu got inside, we heard Eze begging the policemen and shouting that he was not a thief but the policemen obviously did not believe him because we heard gunshots soon after.”

Eze’s widow called on the police authorities to make sure that her husband’s killers were brought to justice.

When contacted on the telephone, the spokesman for the Federal SARS, Lekan Ogundare, said he was not aware of the incident but promised to find out.

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