Eight days after the killing of a 33-year-old man, Orimisan Omoboye, in Ilaje area of Ajah Lagos, during a botched operation by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Lagos, the family said their greatest fear has come true.
The SARS operatives, who mistakenly shot dead the young man during their operation in the area, have labelled him an armed robber.
It would be recalled that when our correspondent spoke with the victim’s 65-year-old mother, Mama Espa Omoboye, on Monday, July 20, 2015 – the day of the incident, she expressed fear that her son might be labelled an armed robber who was shot while trying to escape because the men refused to hand over his corpse after the incident.
Mama Espa said as her son laid lifeless on the ground, she begged the SARS operatives to leave his body for her, while other youths who had gathered also demanded that the operatives leave the body.
“They killed my son unjustly and took his body away again as if it was some kind of animal killed while hunting. God would judge them if they go and label him a robber,” the woman said at the time.
But fast forward to July 28, 2015, the family said they visited the SARS headquarters in Ikeja, Lagos, only to be shown a photograph of the body of the victim and was told that he was an armed robber killed in a shootout with SARS operatives.
One of the deceased’s relations, who was at the SARS office said that a red cloth with fetish objects attached to it had been tied on the deceased body.
“When his body was taken away forcibly at Ajah, he had nothing like that on him. There were many Ajah youths around at the time, no gun was found on him. But in the photo they showed us, they had placed two guns on his body,” the relation, Mr. Kehinde Emmanuel said.
Orimisan was sleeping in his small one room apartment when he was roused from bed by the sound of gunshots. He reportedly dashed out of his room and was gunned down by SARS operatives who were purportedly in the community on the trail or armed robbers.
Residents said the operatives shot at him simply because he was running at the sound of gunshot.
Orimisan was married and had two children.
It was learnt that since the day of the incident, Orimisan’s wife had not stopped sobbing.
“It got so bad that her family had to relocate her to Ondo State because she refused to eat or talk to anybody. The problem now is how to take care of the children that the SARS operatives have made fatherless,” Emmanuel said.
The Civil Rights Liberty Organisation has taken up the case on behalf of the family, petitioning the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni.
“SARS men who were armed to the teeth drove in in a Gestapo manner and invaded the area. In an unprovoked attack, they started shooting sporadically in the air. By the time the episode ended, the deceased was lying in a pool of his blood,” the group said in its petition.
The organisation said the attack was unprovoked and unjustified, calling on the Lagos State Police Command, to conduct an immediate and proper investigation into the case to ensure justice is done for the family.
In another petition sent to the Office of the Public Defender of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, the family vented their anger.
“The SARS operatives like every other men of the Nigeria Police are fully aware that it is better for a suspect to escape than for one innocent citizen to be killed due to the misconduct of people who swore to protect lives and property,” the petition reads.
The family has also called on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to prevail on the Lagos command to ensure that the SARS men responsible for the botched operation in which Orimisan died, is fished out and thoroughly investigated.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Patricia Amadin, said even though she had not taken over as spokesperson in the command at the time of the operation, she would get details of the case and get back to our report. She had yet to do so as of the time this paper went to bed.