Slain businessman did not argue with soldiers, friend insists
Tiamiyu Saheed Oluwatosin
A friend of Niyi Ehindero, who witnessed how he was allegedly murdered by soldiers on Thursday in Mushin area of Lagos, has said the slain man did not argue with the men of OP MESA before he was shot dead.
Ehindero’s friend, who craved anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the case, said on the day of the incident, Ehindero went with him to see a friend at Mushin.
He said, “We went to visit someone on Bada Street, Mushin, but the person was not at home. So, we decided to leave and had headed back where he parked our car when the said friend called and said we should wait for him.
“Suddenly, we saw people running. I ran back into the house but Ehindero decided to stay inside the car and wound up. The soldiers banged on the car window and ordered him to alight.
“They asked him ‘where is the gun, where is the gun? And Ehindero wound down and replied ‘which gun? I don’t have anything’
“Contrary to reports, he did not even argue with the soldiers, he opened the door and just like in the picture, he attempted to alight from the vehicle when he was brutally shot in the crotch by the soldiers.”
The source said Ehindero screamed loudly before giving up the ghost. “I opened the curtain from the house where I hid and I saw blood all over the car and on the floor,” he said.
Our source added that the soldiers were walking around the car thinking of what to do next and then went into the house near where Ehindero’s car was parked.
“The soldiers entered the house where I hid and said they were looking for the hoodlums. The soldiers then said to us ‘someone has been killed o!’ Make sure you move the body before you all get killed,” he said.
Our source, who spoke concerning tears, described the killing as unwarranted as Ehindero neither looked like a hoodlum, nor was armed when the soldiers confronted and shot him.
“Niyi (Ehindero) did not dress as a hoodlum; he was neither armed nor was sweating when they approached him. This should have proved to the soldiers that he was not among those who were running,” he said.
Relatives of the deceased as well as clerics came in droves to commiserate with the family and offered prayers on Sunday while his friends described the last moments they had with him.
One of them said, “New-Yorker” as Niyi was fondly called, was a jovial person who never looked for trouble. I wonder why such a gentle man could be murdered.
The friend, who also declined to give his name said, “Niyi had finesse that was why we called him New-Yorker. He was very sociable and caring. In fact, whenever I travelled, he would visit my family and attend to their needs.
“On January 2, 2012, he marked his 39th birthday and many of us attended. We wished one other happy new year and we thought this year would be a blessing. We never knew his life would be cut short by overzealous soldiers.”
Wale, another friend of the deceased, said, “It was with shock that I read the news in the newspapers. Till now, it still feels like a dream. The army authorities must do something about this.”
It was learnt that the Alakara Police Division, the jurisdiction where the incident took place, had commenced investigation into the matter.
A police officer, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak with the press, said it had been established by those who witnessed the killing that it was done by soldiers.
He said, “So many people have spoken to the police and we can say to a large extent, although investigations are still ongoing, that it was the soldiers that murdered Ehindero.
“The vehicle is still in our custody and we are trying to bring the suspects to book. Once we finish preliminary investigations, we will transfer the case to the State Criminal Investigation Department.”
It was learnt that Ehindero, an indigene of Akoko in Ondo State, was killed just three days after his 39th birthday.
Meanwhile, the Army authorities told our correspondent on the telephone that investigations had commenced but insinuated that the soldiers might be innocent.
A senior military officer, who craved anonymity, said, “Based on preliminary investigations, the soldiers might be innocent because when we counted their ammunition, everything was complete. in spite of that, it is too early to conclude.”
However, a military officer attached to the 9 Brigade, told our correspondent in confidence that the fact that the soldiers’ ammunition was complete was not enough reason to prove their innocence.
“Sometimes, when soldiers are going on unauthorised operations, they buy ammunition from riot policemen to cover their tracks. I have a strong feeling that if the autopsy is done, the bullet may have police signature,” he said.
The Public Relations Officer, 9 Brigade, Lt. Olaniyi Osoba, told our correspondent on the telephone on Sunday that the military authorities had commenced investigations but needed witnesses to come forward.
“The soldiers in question have been detained and we have commenced investigations. I will like to invite witnesses to come forward and assist with the investigations,” he said.
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