The leaders of Okunraye Community, one of the host communities of the Lekki Free Trade Zone (LFTZ) in Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, have blamed the police for the death of Mr. Tajudeen Disu, Managing Director of LFTZ who was gunned down during a protest on October 12, saying he died as a result of a stray bullet fired by the police.
Washing their hands off his death, they made this known in an affidavit filed at the Lagos High Court on Tuesday, October 21, 2015, which also demanded, among others, the unconditional release of their youths from custody, as well as an order declaring their arrest and detention wrongful and a sharp contravention of their fundamental human rights as enshrined in Chapter 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Surajudeen Salami, who deposed the affidavit on behalf of the community, narrating the incident of the fateful day said: “When we were imploring Mr Disu, Alhaji Jegede and the Baale of Igiye Community to stop policemen from shooting because the members of Okunraye Community did not want to fight and only wanted to discuss with Dangote management, the police refused to stop shooting and then a stray bullet hit Mr Disu from behind and he died instantly.”
Continuing, he added that he saw the policeman that pulled the trigger that killed Mr. Disu. He also alleged that the police officers stopped shooting when they realized that a stray bullet had killed the LFTZ boss.
In a swift response, the police have refuted the claims, saying that the police had no hand in the death of Mr Disu.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) for Lagos State, Joe Offor, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, who spoke to our correspondent on Monday, October 26, 2015, the community is only shifting the blame to the police, that the killing of Mr Tajudeen Disu was premeditated as the protesters came armed with guns and charms.
Speaking extensively on the case, Mr Joe Offor revealed much in this chat
What’s the latest on the killing of Mr Tajudeen Disu and the subsequent arrest of some suspects?
The suspects, numbering about 17, have been arraigned in court, precisely at Ebute Meta Magistrate Court, and the hearing has commenced. They are remanded in police custody. I’m not sure when the case was adjourned to.
What charges were brought against the suspects?
You know somebody died, they have been charged with murder and conspiracy to murder, public disturbance, riotious conduct. It amounts to about 12-count charges.
The leaders of one of the communities are claiming it was actually the police that fired the bullet which killed Tajudeen Disu, and not the protesters. How do you respond to this?
That would be their defence in a matter like this, they know they have goofed and maybe that is the only thing they think can use to wriggle out of the case. It is not true, the police is not responsible for Mr. Disu’s death. The members of the community left their houses and conspired to demonstrate and riot, carrying dangerous weapons and charms. When they did conspire to do all these was the police there with them? They came out to do something unlawful and ended up killing somebody. Apart from Mr Disu who died, there was another person, a retired colonel who is the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Dangote refineries, who they inflicted multiple machete injuries on. If he had died, they would have said the police killed him. The police had no hand in what happened that day. In fact, if the police had not arrived at the scene, the CSO of Dangote Refineries would have been killed, so many other persons as well. It was the intervention of police that reduced the collateral damage that it would have resulted to. Were they not armed with guns, machetes, charms from their homes before they came out that day?”
If they claim the police killed Mr. Disu, who then inflicted multiple injuries on the CSO? We have all the arms and the charms we recovered from them in our custody, how was it then a peaceful demonstration? In peaceful demonstrations, you carry placards and leaves, not dangerous weapons.
This thing they are saying now is just subterfuge, and unnecessary excuses. They intended what happened that day, the killing of Mr Disu was premeditated. He was not armed, he was not aggressive, he even recognised their plight and was trying to persuade them to be calm, assuring them that he’d table the matter with the government and all stakeholders. They shot him down and now they are shifting the blame to the police. They are just trying to scapegoat the police. I repeat, we had no hand in the death of Mr Disu.