Law and order completely broke down in Abeokuta on Thursday morning after operatives of the Special Anti- Robbery Squad (SARS) shot two Hausa traders at the popular Olomore food market.
It took the intervention of the State Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Criminal Investigations Department(CID), Abass and the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Edward Ajogun to stop the pandemonium that broke out after the incident.
For over four hours, angry protesters, mostly youths, including females blocked a section of the Lagos- Abeokuta road where the incident occurred. They used lorry tires to set born- fire on the road – making it impossible for commuters to ply the road.
An witness, Nasir Abiola Sani said at 10am, eight SARS officers from the Lafenwa Police Station stormed the market in an unmarked Toyota Sienna vehicle when some of the traders were still offloading their goods from the trucks that brought them.
According to Sani, when the traders inquired from the policemen the reason for storming the market, they replied that they were looking for “Yahoo Yahoo boys” (Internet fraudsters).
“They (policemen) later accosted two middle aged men, Musa Adamu and Awal who they later shot after dragging them on the floor and left them critically injured”, he disclosed .
Angered by the police action, hundreds of the traders blocked the roads making bonfires with planks and tires.
Sani said, “this morning, we were offloading baskets of pepper and tomatoes from the trucks when suddenly, about eight SARs officers stormed the market and started chasing traders and shot two people.
“The officers accosted one Musa Adamu and another, simply identified as Awwal, when they were counting the money meant for the payment of their goods.
“While Adamu was shot in the head and left critically injured, Awwal was shot twice in the leg”.
The victims were rushed to a nearby private hospital, Bisted Hospital but were referred to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Abeokuta.
The situation further degenerated when the angry protesters, armed with sticks, planks, stones and other harmful objects attacked police officers who responded to a distress call from their colleagues.They went on rampage and damaged several vehicles.
The protesters pelted the officers and chased them, chanting “barawo” and forcing the officers to run for their lives.
The chairman of the pepper and tomatoes sellers association, Alhaji Ishaku Nuya demanded justice for his colleagues, saying the perpetrators must be fished out to face the full wrath of the law.
It took the joint efforts of men of the State Police Command and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) over one hour before the protesters were pacified.
Abass said: “We respect the agitations of the protesters. If we do not respect them, we won’t be here. If we do not respect them, we would have used teargas to disperse them.
“The issue has gone beyond using force on them. We don’t want to escalate it any further. That is why we are engaging them in dialogue. We are pacifying them. They are already bothered.
“What they (protesters) need from us is the assurance that justice will be done. Once we are able to convince them that justice will be done, we will get a very good result.”
Spokesperson of the State Police Command , Abimbola Oyeyemi said he didn’t know the cause of the fracas but that “investigation is still going on”.