The family of a tailor who was struck dead by a stray bullet, has considered filing a lawsuit against the police.
Yusuff Owoodun and his wife, Busayo, were at work inside a small room that serves as their tailoring shop at Ijegun, Lagos, on August 10 when they heard a commotion.
Mrs Owoodun dashed outside to drag their five-year-old, who was playing on the veranda, into the room.
She never made it back.
“I went outside to call her in but there was no response, that was when I saw her collapse and saw she has been hit a bullet,” Mr Owoodun told PREMIUM TIMES during a recent visit.
“That’s her machine over there, I can’t believe someone could have died like that.”
Mrs Owoodun, 30, was fatally hit by a stray bullet during, according to the police, an exchange of gunfire between its officers and some suspected kidnappers.
The Owoodun’s live in the busy neighbourhood of Ijegemo Road, where a petrol station and a nearby bus stop are a two-minute walking distance.
Mrs Owoodun was hit by a bullet at her waist, her husband recalled.
“I held her in my hands and was shouting for help but there was no car or bike. Even the police saw us when we were shouting for help, but they didn’t wait, rather, they drove down chasing after the guys.
“How will I ever forget this? It is a moment to remember every eve of Sallah,” Mr Owoodun said.
A Police Story
Explaining how their operation recorded a fatality, Bala Elkana, the police spokesperson in Lagos, said police officers from the Anti-Kidnapping Unit had gone in search of some kidnapping suspects and were waylaid by the gang.
Mr Elkana, a deputy superintendent of police, said in the ensuing gun battle between the officers and the gang, Mrs Owoodun was hit.
”The corpse of the victim of the stray bullet was taken to hospital for autopsy,” he said.
Mr Elkana added that the leader of the police team and two other officers were injured during the exchange.
But residents of the area who witnessed the incident, and who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES, gave a different version of what transpired.
A neighbour to the Owoodun’s, who requested not to be named, said the police officers were chasing some suspected internet fraudsters who were having fun at a nearby house.
“They were no deadly gang at all,” he said.
”They were just Yahoo boys (internet fraudsters) who were somewhere down the area. They were not armed.”
Mr Owoodun’s apprentice, who also witnessed the incident, said while the police were after them, the boys responded by hurling stones at the officers.
”In reaction to the stones thrown at the officers, they began shooting, causing the deceased to fall victim of a stray bullet.
”In fact, during the incident, the whole neighbourhood was scanty, people already ran inside. It was just the police chasing the Yahoo guys and they were throwing stones.”
‘A lively person’
Mr Owoodun said police representatives from Area M and the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department had paid them a visit, adding that the family is considering filing a lawsuit against the police.
He described his late wife as a lively person whom he had known for over 13 years.
“We’ve been working together even before I married her. She always comes to work with me after she finished her apprenticeship. I had not married her then.
Before her sudden death, Mrs Owoodun had been in high spirits, according to her husband, preparing for the Eid celebration.
“She had sown her Sallah cloth,” Mr Owoodun said.
“She plaited her hair all through Friday, she didn’t come back to the house until 11 p.m.”
The couple has three children – the two living with them attend a school in their neighbourhood and are in Primary Two and Kindergarten.
Their eldest child, who is in Primary Six, lives with Mrs Owoodun’s mother.
“She was the one taking care of her mother and her grandmother. With the little money she was making, she made sure she attended to their needs.”