Thursday, April 28

Soldiers torture lawyer who accused them of causing gridlock

Soldiers torture lawyer who accused them of causing gridlock

Olajide’s car, Olajide

A Lagos-based lawyer, Olajide Sipe, is in a critical condition at a private hospital after he was tortured and shot at by some soldiers on the 7th Avenue, FESTAC Town, Lagos State.

It was learnt that the officers were deployed in the community to guard the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipelines.

They were, however, said to have left their duty post for the Mobil Filling Station on 23 Road to coordinate motorists queueing for fuel on Tuesday.

PUNCH Metro learnt that the victim was driving home in his Toyota Camry when he was held by a gridlock on the road.

The soldiers were reported to have stopped a bus on the the road.

Olajide was said to have advised one of the officers to park the bus by the roadside to free up the gridlock they created.

As he drove off, the soldiers reportedly mounted a motorcycle and began to chase him. It was said that they shot at him, but the bullets hit the car’s back tyres.

They were said to have waylaid him on 72 Road, where they tortured him, rendering him unconscious.

Narrating his ordeal to PUNCH Metro, Olajide, who is married with a child, said his only mistake was that he advised the soldiers.

He said, “I went to buy bottles of water for my family and on my way back, I got to Mobil Filling Station and I discovered there was traffic, which was caused by a bus on the road.

“A solider stood in front of the bus and was telling the driver something. I was in my car when I advised him that he could have asked the driver to park by the roadside, instead of inconveniencing other road users.

“He asked who I was to advise him. I told him I was only trying to give a solution, but he started drawing closer to me with his gun. I was alarmed.

“Another officer stood at the front of my car and started kicking one of its headlights. He had a jerrycan in his hand with which he smashed my windscreen. As I drove off, I saw that they had become four and had mounted a motorcycle and were chasing me. I was afraid.

“When I got to 7th Avenue, I made a U-turn, but because they were coming with speed, they couldn’t do that. I looked back and saw one of the soldiers, kneeling down and aiming his gun at me. He shot at my car twice. The bullets deflated the two back tyres.”

He said he pulled up and came down to pacify them, adding that the men pounced on him.

A witness, who did not identify himself for security reason, said the officers would have killed the Ogun State indigene but for the intervention of a senior military officer.

He said, “What caught people’s attention were the gunshots. They used planks to hit his head and one of them carried a big stone to smash his skull.

“He was stabbed two times in the body. One of them wanted to use a dagger to cut him when a military officer, who was passing by, intervened. He showed them his ID card and that was when they left him. As they were going, they  vandalised his car.”

It was learnt that residents, who knew the victim, rushed him to the Mercy Gate Hospital, a private medical facility in the area.

 The Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Solomon Ekundayo, said the victim sustained serious injuries.

He said, “When he was brought in, he was in a bad state; he had lacerations in the head, including one that was very deep. He was also traumatised, while his face was drenched in blood.

“We had to admit him and do everything possible to stabilise him and suture the lacerations. We will still need to investigate and ascertain the state of his internal organs. Injuries like this can affect the liver and other organs of the body and even the brain. We also plan to do a CT scan of the brain to find out the extent of the injuries to his brain.”

Our correspondent gathered that the victim, who initially lost consciousness, later gave the contact of his family members.

The case was said to have been reported at the FESTAC Police Division.

 A family member, Bunmi, asked the government to give justice to his brother, saying the officers should be fished out and punished.

He said, “Those officers wanted to kill him. They were posted to the 7th Avenue to check activities of pipeline vandals; they had no business at any filling station. We want them fished out for punishment.

“We also want the military authorities to clear my brother’s medical bills, repair his car and compensate him. The case should not be swept under the carpet.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, confirmed the incident, adding that the police had started investigations.

She said, “We got a report that one Olajde Sipe, who lives in FESTAC Town, was attacked by four unidentified men in army uniform on 72 Road, FESTAC Town.  Efforts are ongoing to trace the alleged soldiers.”

Our correspondent gathered that a lieutenant, identified as A.I. Sadi, denied that the officers were the ones guarding pipelines in the community.

A source said, “But, we think he was trying to cover up for them because they were on illegal duty. The victim said he can recognise at least two of them.”

The Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Lt. Col. Kingsley Samuel, said the army had got in touch with the victim and was making efforts to apprehend the culprits.

He said, “We are in touch with the victim and he has given us the details of what happened. We have started our investigations and will ensure that the culprits are punished. Nobody is above the law.”

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