Kayode Omotosho, an official at the Christ Apostolic Church, Victoryland, Ilupeju, has narrated to the Lagos judicial panel how a physically challenged member of his church was allegedly killed by a SARS operative in Lagos.
Mr Omotosho, who was sworn under oath before testifying at the panel, said Francis Idum was shot in the head by a SARS operative identified as Hakeem Muhammed, aka Skoda, at Ajisegiri Street, Ilupeju, Lagos. The incident reportedly happened on July 15, 2019.
“It was a Sunday, I was with Francis until 5 p.m., because Francis was a member of the men’s association, which I was the chairman.
“I was in my office at 8 o’clock when I received a call that Francis Eni Idum had been killed at a street very close to the church. That is Ajisegiri Street, off Shilom Street. I quickly picked up my car and took off to Ajisegiri Street.”
Mr Omotosho said when he got to the street, there was a large crowd and it took him time to get to the scene where Francis was lying in the pool of his own blood.
“He was a physically challenged person and his occupation was a cleaner. He cleans people’s toilets, bathrooms and houses. He had lots of houses that employed his services.
“The late Francis Eni Idum was an amiable person, very jovial. In spite of his challenges or physical structure, he was friendly. They call him agba. He does not have money but helps people with his capacity by sweeping and all. He was loved by all,” Mr Omotosho said.
Narrating the incident further, Mr Omotosho said when he got to the scene, people who witnessed the shooting were shouting that it was Hakeem Muhammed, alias Skoda, a SARS operative from Ladipo, Mushin SARS office that killed him.
“People that were around kept shouting that nobody will dare remove the body of this man until Hakeem Muhammed showed up.
“While there, I took the pictures, just like every other person, and just there, I picked up a bullet shell just beside him and made a photo of it. He was hit on the head and the bullet shell was very close to where he laid his head.”
Mr Omotosho said he recorded the serial number he saw on the bullet shell and this was admitted as Exhibit A by the panel.
According to eyewitnesses, Hakeem Scoda and his other colleagues came with a Toyota Corolla car with registration number YAB725AP with tinted glass, the witness said. The car was traced to Mushin station where it was found parked at the station, Mr Omotosho said.
“As we were there, looking at the dead body on the floor, not quite long, a large number of police vehicles came with sirens. As they disembarked from the vehicle, firing tear gas, everybody started scampering, there was stampede in all directions, people were running.
“Everybody was away from the scene, by the time everything settled, they had carried the body of Francis. I had the effrontery to approach the high-ranking officer there, asking him about his identity and he said he is the Area Commander, Area F,” he added.
Mr Omotosho added that in less than an hour after the incident, the police spokesperson, Bala Elkana, a Deputy Superintendent of Police issued a press release, saying Eni Idum was killed by hoodlums and that there were opposing groups fighting each other and he was killed.
“The police fabricated the report,” he said.
He added that the deceased had a bucket, broom, mopping stick, with him at the time of the incident because he had just finished cleaning one house and was going to another house when the police bullet hit him.
He told the panel that the report he got was that Hakeem (the SARS operative) and his colleagues saw some men, chased them while others in the area including Francis also tried to run to safety. It was in the process that the policeman fired a shot and Francis was hit in the head, he said.
Mr Omotosho told the panel how several efforts have been made by the family to get justice, including writing petitions to the various authorities of the police and the Lagos government, including the governor and the attorney-general.
They also approached human rights organisations and the Office of the Public Defender, Surulere, who raised a petition requesting for investigation and prosecution of the SARS operative.
“While in progress, we went to Panti police station and the IPO told us we had to go to Yaba mortuary.”
He told the panel that the police did not just carry Mr Idum’s corpse away, it was dumped in a container at a mortuary in Yaba, where the mortuary attendant informed them that the bodies in the container were for mass burial.
“The attendant said for them to remove the body from the container for mass burial into the mortuary, a sum must be paid. We paid N10,500 for them to move him,” he said.
The corpse was, thereafter, taken to his aged parents in Cross River State for burial.