Tayo Odulami was there when policemen opened fire on a driver, Santos Korie, in the Mushin area of Lagos State last Thursday, because he drove against traffic.
According to the witness, Korie who was earlier thought to be a foreigner but has now been identified as a Nigerian was in the vehicle with registration number EH778FST, with his younger brother when the incident happened.
“Around 7am last Thursday, I was carrying out the weekly market sanitation at Daleko Market when I saw a silver-coloured Toyota Highlander Sports Utility Vehicle coming from Ilasamaja direction,” Odulami said.
“On getting beneath the bridge and driving towards Mushin, he noticed that there was a roadblock due to construction and he claimed he did not know the alternative route to take so a newspaper vendor advised him to reverse and drive against traffic, make a U-turn and then ascend the Daleko Bridge.
“He drove against traffic and as he was about making a U-turn to ascend the bridge, he was accosted by the policemen.
“The policemen were talking to him, but he was smiling and did not roll down his window. The next thing I heard was four gunshots and everyone fled. The man’s car continued to move probably because he had taken his legs off the brakes. The vehicle then rammed into the side of the bridge, damaging the car.”
Sources say the policemen involved were attached to the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, but the witness said they were without LASTMA officials on the said day as they rode in a commercial bus they had probably seized.
The surviving occupant of the vehicle had according to the witness, reported the matter at Area D Command.
“The policemen usually work with LASTMA under the bridge and due to the ongoing construction, motorists are usually allowed to drive against traffic. The policemen wanted to extort money from people that morning. That was why they came in a commercial bus and not the LASTMA van.
“After they killed the man, they fled and some commercial motorcycle riders chased them but they shot into the air to scare people away. They then jumped on a motorcycle and fled.
“Meanwhile, the other occupant of the SUV came down and started crying for help. We then advised him to go and report the matter at Area D. The Area Commander, Omololu Bishi, arrived at the scene but by then, the man was already dead.”
Some foreign passports found inside the deceased’s vehicle made people to initially believe that he was a foreigner, but he was later found out to be a Nigerian whose name was Onyekachi Korie.
Two suspected policemen, Idu and Ameh, as well as their driver, Sunday Sylvester, had since been arrested by the police and transferred to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad where they had written confessional statements.
“The murder was a case of police extortion that went out of hand. However, there will be no cover up on the matter as we have arrested both killer policemen as well as those who have been engaging on illegal traffic duty,” a police source said, adding that the suspects confessed that they usually engaged in illegal duty between 5am and 7am.
“The police suspects said they usually seized commercial buses and then used it to extort money from people early in the morning before LASTMA men come for morning shifts. Sylvester also confessed that he had driven the policemen on over 10 illegal operations.
“He said after arresting traffic offenders, they would take them to a corner and negotiate a specific amount of money and then release them. He said offenders were never taken to LASTMA office because they would need to register the case and by so doing, they would not make any money,” the source said.
In her reaction, the police spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, said the killers might have been hired killers in police uniform, but she didn’t say if they had been confirmed not to be policemen. She however confirmed that arrests had been made.