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Army defends killer soldiers, police kick, widow abandoned

The Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday slammed the Nigerian Army after the immediate past General Officer Commanding, 81 Division, Umar Musa, said the soldiers linked to the death of an Inspector, Monday Orukpe, reacted to a gunshot fired by the policeman.

Musa, a Major-General, was handing over to the new GOC, 81 Division, Obinna Ajunwa, when he made the statement at the division’s headquarters in the Victoria Island area of Lagos State.

While noting that investigations were still ongoing, Musa said preliminary findings revealed that the police officer shot at one of the soldiers during the altercation, adding that the bullet missed the soldier’s vital parts.

“The other soldiers reacted to the shot fired by the police officer and this led to their beating the policeman to death. We have paid a condolence visit to the Commissioner of Police to tell him that we will take necessary measures to prevent future occurrences of such nature.

“The injured soldier is in hospital receiving treatment and investigation is ongoing to ascertain the next line of action to be taken,” Musa said according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

Reacting to the statement, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, in a rebuttal posted on his Twitter page on Wednesday, said no soldier was shot, adding that the soldiers attacked the policemen unprovoked.

He wrote, “Inasmuch as the Lagos State Police Command is in a grieving mood and has decided to toe the line of civility, it is pertinent to stand against misinformation.

“The fact remains that on Wednesday, August 3, 2022, at the Trade Fair area of Lagos State, about 30 privates of the Nigerian Army attacked five policemen for stopping vehicles along their lane to pave way for a heavy-duty truck joining the expressway.

“After the soldiers had brutalised the ASP leading the team, taken out his magazine, and abducted two Inspectors with their rifles, the next Inspector they attempted to attack fired a single shot into the air – an act that made the soldiers retreat.

“At no point was anyone hit. While we mourn our fallen hero and pray for the total recovery of the second abducted Inspector, we urge Nigerians to disregard the claim that a soldier was shot as there is absolutely no truth to it.

“Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command looks forward to the fishing out of the soldiers behind the torture and murder of Inspector Monday Orukpe.”

Meanwhile, the wife of the late Inspector, Favour, while speaking to our correspondent on Tuesday, said she and her four children, alongside her husband’s relatives, had yet to receive any official visit from the army and the police authorities.

The mother of four, while demanding justice, said she started suspecting that something had happened to her husband after efforts to reach him on his mobile number proved abortive.

She said, “Normally, he is the type that always calls home to check on us. But on Wednesday, I didn’t hear from him and around 12pm and 2pm, I became worried but thought he was busy. Around 4pm, I called him but he didn’t pick the call. Around 8pm, I called again and he didn’t pick the call.

“Immediately, I started contacting his co-workers and got across to one of them around 5.30am the next day. He said my husband went out and promised he would call back when he returned.

“I searched for the admin number of the police station where my husband worked and the policeman that picked my call told me he went on a special duty across the river.”

Favour said she was making efforts to locate the whereabouts of her husband when she got the news that he was tortured to death by soldiers.

Describing her husband’s death as sudden, Favour said she was still nursing a three-month-old baby, Covenant, whose siblings, Divine, 13; Emmanuel, 11, and Praise, 7, had been distraught by the tragic loss of their father.

“They (army and police) just abandoned me; I have not heard from the Commissioner of Police, or the army, and not even his co-workers. They abandoned us because we are nobody. He (Monday) was our breadwinner.

“I want the soldiers that killed him to be brought to book. I also want the army to say what they would do for my children because I can’t take care of them alone. His corpse is still with the army,” she added.

Reacting to Favour’s allegation, Hundeyin said, “The command will not be that insensitive as to abandoning them. As a matter of fact, the Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, was in Abuja when the incident happened and for that reason, he took the next available flight back to Lagos.

“On his return, he had a meeting with the leadership of the Nigerian Army in Lagos. Three Brigadier-Generals came to the office and the CP demanded that the perpetrators of this act be fished out and made to face the law.

“The CP has delegated the Area Commander in FESTAC to represent the command and pay a visit to the family of the fallen hero.”

The spokesperson, 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Major Olaniyi Osoba, said, “The army has already paid a condolence visit to the police and the case is still under investigation. It’s an unfortunate incident but it is still undergoing administrative procedure.”

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