The police and the army continued their war of words over an incident during the Isheri Day celebrations in Isheri, Ogun State, in which three persons were reportedly killed and several others injured. While the police attributed the deaths to soldiers from the 81 Division, Lagos, the army denied, claiming that it was one of its personnel that was injured by persons it alleged were cultists.
Violence had broken out during a yearly festival held during the Eid-el-Kabir in Isheri Olofin Community in Kara, Ogun State on Monday night. Soldiers were alleged to have been involved in the incident.
Confirming the incident through a press statement, Ogun State police spokesperson, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said four men of the Nigerian Army, believed to be from Ikeja Cantonment and posted to Kara Market, left their beats and went to Isheri Olofin, where the indigenes of the town were celebrating their annual “Isheri Day.”
The soldiers, according to Oyeyemi, had a minor disagreement with some youths when they got to the event, causing the soldiers to start shooting sporadically into the air. Oyeyemi said the ‘ugly incident’ infuriated the people at the scene, who in turn reacted violently against the soldiers, leaving one of the soldiers and three other civilians injured.
The police spokesperson added that the soldiers quickly took their injured colleague to a hospital (name withheld) where they met one of the injured civilians being attended to by a medical doctor on duty. According to the police, a statement from the officials of the hospital revealed that the soldiers ordered the doctor at gunpoint, to leave the injured man and attend to their colleague.
It was gathered that the soldiers allegedly dragged the patient out of the bed and subsequently stabbed him to death with a bayonet attached to the muzzle of his rifle. The statement read: “Credible information at the disposal of the command has it that on the said date, four men of the Nigerian Army believed to be from Ikeja Cantonment and posted to Kara Market, left their beats and went to Isheri Olofin, a border town between Lagos and Ogun State where the indigenes of the town were celebrating their annual ‘Isheri Day’.
“The Soldiers, on getting there, had a minor disagreement with some youths which made the soldiers to start shooting sporadically into the air. Consequently, one Damilare Adelani was hit by bullets and he died on the spot. The ugly incident infuriated the people at the scene who in turn reacted violently against the soldiers leaving one of the soldiers and three other civilians injured.
“The Soldiers quickly took their injured colleague to a hospital (name with-held) where they met one of the injured civilians being attended to by a medical doctor on duty. The statement from the officials of the hospital reveals that the Soldiers ordered the doctor on gun-point, to leave the injured man and attend to their colleague. They then dragged the patient out of the bed and subsequently stabbed him to death with a Bayonet attached to the muzzle of his rifle.”
Oyeyemi further stated that “The Commissioner of Police, Bashir Makama, has ordered a full scale investigation into the ‘Isheri Day’ shooting incident, with a view to bringing the suspects to justice,” adding that the Command had contacted the military authorities in Ogun State, as “efforts are in place to ensure that the suspected killer(s) are brought to book.”
But the army in its own press statement wednesday and signed by the 9 Brigade, Assistant Director, Public Relations, Major CK Abiade, denied the police report.
It denied any shooting, or that its personnel had fracas with the community, and insisted no life was lost. It also maintained that only its personnel sustained a cut in the head, while trying to intervene in a fracas between two warring cult groups in the community, adding that the soldier was currently receiving treatment.
According to Abiade, “The attention of 81 Division Nigerian Army has been drawn to a news story insinuating that soldiers of 9 Brigade on patrol were involved in the killing of three people in Isheri Olofin Community of Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State on August 13, 2019.
“The 81 Division hereby states that the patrol team in response to a distressed call, made a prompt intervention to forestall bloody clash among the ‘Isheri boys’ who are allegedly referred to as a dangerous cult group terrorizing the community.
“It is important to also state that there was no firing or exchange of fire between the troops and the alleged cult group throughout the period of the troops’ intervention. However, one of our soldiers got a deep cut on the head arising from the troops’ efforts to avert lethal conflict in the community.
“The wounded has been evacuated to Gentalbert Hospital for first aid treatment from where he was subsequently transferred to the Military Hospital. He is responding to treatment at the moment. Peace has since been restored to the affected area.
“Members of the public are requested to disregard the news indicating the so called killing of three people in the area. The news is baseless and is therefore fake.
“The General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Maj-Gen JO Irefin, once again assures the public of the resolve of the Division to protect lives and property of all law abiding citizens of the state and environs, while urging the people to continue with their legitimate routine activities unhindered.”