Some residents of Isheri, Lagos State, on Saturday went on the rampage at the Isheri Divisional Police Station after the corpse of a 37-year-old tricycle rider, Adama Onikoyi, was recovered from a river in the community.
A team of policemen from the station had reportedly raided the neighbourhood around 10pm on Thursday during which they chased the father of four into the river, where he drowned.
But the Lagos State Police Command said the indigene of Ibadan, Oyo State was a traffic robber, adding that he jumped into the river to evade arrest.
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Reporter learnt that Adama was accosted by one of the cops on Wilma Street, where he lived, shortly after he returned from work.
It was gathered that he declined following them to the station on the grounds that he did not commit any offence.
He was said to have managed to escape and flee towards the river.
His widow, Biliki Onikoyi, said he had gone to buy food for one of their children, Zainab, after he returned from work.
She said she became apprehensive when he did not return after an hour.
She said, “When I called his phone number, it indicated that it was switched off. I was in fear throughout the night. While I was searching for him the following morning, someone said policemen raided the community the previous day and chased a man to the riverside.
“The person said he saw some policemen beating one man and that they tore the man’s clothes when he insisted that he would not follow them. I went there and found my husband’s clothes at the bank.
“I went to the station to know if he was among those arrested during the raid. A policeman I met said he was not arrested. While he was attending to me, another policeman came and said they pushed a stubborn man inside the water.”
Biliki said Adama’s corpse floated around 8am on Saturday with injuries on his head and face.
She said her husband was killed for no just cause and demanded that justice must be done.
“One of his hands was also broken. He was not a thief and nothing incriminating was found on him. I don’t have any job. He was the one catering to the family. All our children are still in school,” she added.
A friend of the deceased, John Eze, who claimed to have witnessed the incident, said one of the policemen shot into the river after Adama drowned.
He said, “The man was my close friend and he was a commercial tricycle rider, shuttling between Ojodu-Berger and Isheri. Some minutes after he left the park at Ojodu-Berger, I passed through the police station and saw some policemen in a van heading towards Wilma Street.
“I parked my tricycle and hid somewhere to know what was happening. I saw a policeman hold him by the waist of his trousers. He struggled with the policeman and later escaped. The policeman chased him until he fell into the river. The policeman also shot into the water.
“Some people were with me that evening, but we were afraid to go to the riverside. It was the following day I learnt that he was missing. He was not a thug. Everybody knows he was an easy-going person. He was very friendly.”
Another friend of the deceased, Taofiq Oladejo, said some youths had protested at the police station on Friday, alleging that operatives of the division drowned Adama.
He said some community elders intervened, stopped the protest and had a meeting with the police.
“The police denied that he was beaten and drowned. The elders told them that they would not be happy if they found injuries on Adama’s body. Unfortunately, there were injuries on his body.
“The youths took his corpse to the station on Saturday. The police fired tear gas canisters into them and they also threw stones,” he added.
However, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Olarinde Famous-Cole, said Adama was a hoodlum who had been disturbing the peace of the community.
He said the police had swooped on him based on complaints by residents.
He said, “The person that jumped into that water was a known hoodlum, a drug addict and a traffic robber. Residents of the area have complained about him and other people. While the police were trying to arrest him, he jumped from one building into another to escape the police. He later jumped into the river and got drowned.
“The police called the community leaders and members of the community and told them what happened. Some people were not happy and they wanted to capitalise on the incident. We drafted policemen from the Area Command and men of the Lagos State Neighbourhood Corps to fortify the division. Normalcy has returned to the area.”