Thursday, 31 March 2016

Extra-judicial Killing: Tension in Arepo As Naval Officers Allegedly Kill Three Residents

Punch newspaper reports that tension ensued at Arepo, in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State on Wednesday after some naval officers allegedly killed three residents. The victims, identified as Biodun Mohammed, Chicago and Body, were said to have been rounded up on Sunday at a beer parlour in the area.

The men were said to have been taken away and shot dead.
Family members and friends of the victims, who found their corpses on Wednesday, blocked the only entrance into the Arepo community, preventing vehicular movements in and out.

The situation created traffic jam on the road, which spilled onto the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
When PUNCH Metro visited the scene of the alleged execution in Voera Estate, it was observed that the corpses had become bloated just as stench pervaded the air.

While two of the men were taken across a wooden bridge into the creek where they were shot, the last corpse was found inside a bush where flies were feasting on it.

As of 4pm on Wednesday, policemen from the Ibafo division had surrounded the place and stopped people from coming to gaze at the corpses.

It was learnt that 24-year-old Mohammed, an indigene of Ogun State, resided in Sagamu, Ogun State.
His widow, Motunrayo, said she confronted the military officers when they arrested her husband on Sunday.

She said, “On Sunday around 7pm, the military officers numbering about seven came to the restaurant where my husband was with a friend. I can indentify two of them as Jason and Ola. I asked them what his offence was, but Jason asked me to keep quiet.

“He pointed a gun at me and threatened to shoot me dead if I moved closer. He did not allow my husband or his friend to utter a word. They took them away.

“I went to report at the soldiers’ base in Ebute and they said they were not holding my husband. But this morning, some landlords in Voera Estate, where he was killed, came to inform me that they had found his corpse in the bush.”

PUNCH Metro gathered that the third victim was earlier arrested on Sunday.
It was learnt that Mohammed was into furniture making.

His mother, Safura, said the 24-year-old had come to Arepo to celebrate Easter with his family when the incident happened.

“I was the one that called him on Saturday that he should come to Arepo to celebrate Easter with us.
“On Sunday morning, he washed his clothes and ate. In the evening, he went to the restaurant when he was arrested. The soldiers took them from there and went to kill them in the forest,” she added.
Safura lamented that her son was killed in cold blood, calling for justice for him.

A resident, Jide Olorunsola, said the naval authorities killed the men in the creek to cover up the crime and make it appear that was where they were caught.

“They made it appear like they were vandals and that they caught them in the creek and shot them dead,” he said.

Another resident, who did not identify himself, accused the military of highhandedness in Arepo, asking the authorities to curtail their excesses.

He said, “If they find you outside at 9pm, they will harass you for no just cause. They go beyond their boundaries and even go as far as extorting money from residents.”

There was almost a confrontation with some OP MESA operatives at the Arepo gate as families of the victim insisted their patrol van would not go out.

Two of the officers at the back cocked their guns, which angered the protesters, who dared them to shoot.

A community leader, however, intervened by appeasing the protesters to allow the military officers to go.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Ogun State, DSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said the police had begun investigations into the deaths.

He said the police were also making arrangements to remove the corpses and deposit them in a mortuary.

He said, “The Ibafo division of the command got the information that three people were taken by some men at a beer parlour on Sunday around 8pm, and they were shot dead and their corpses were found in Arepo. We are investigating and we are going to get the perpetrators.

“Meanwhile, the Divisional Police Officer is trying to get an ambulance to see how we can evacuate the corpses.  The Deputy Commissioner of Operations has sent more policemen to the community to assist the DPO to forestall a breakdown of law and order.”

The acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, denied the involvement of military officers guarding the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s pipelines in Arepo in the killing.

He said pipeline vandals who had run out of business because of the activities of the military were out to blackmail them.

He said, “For more than one month now, we have not had any operation in that area, so how could we have killed those people? How can the troop deployed for Operation Awase kill them? How do you even believe that members of the armed forces of Nigeria would descend so low as go to meet people in a beer parlour to abduct them?

“The issue is that before our coming, there had been series of vandalism and siphoning of fuel in Arepo. Some people had made a lot of money before the government intervened and said no more of that due to the economic recession. It is this people, that are trying to blackmail us. Anyone saying we killed anybody should produce evidence. Who did it?

“However, as a security agency that is supposed to protect lives and property, we are concerned about the loss of lives. Last time, they ambushed our officers and some of them were killed; but did anybody make noise? The reason is that we take that as part of the risks of our job. People should not be using the media to achieve whatever is their plot.”

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