TRAGEDY: How soldiers killed JSS3 student on birthday, hours after February 25 election



The echoes of the February 25 presidential election, is reverberating in a different way for the family of Pelumi Sulaimon, a 15-year-old boy, said to have been mowed down by the bullets of soldiers attached to Operation MESA, a special security outfit in Lagos, a day after the exercise.

The young lad was reportedly shot dead by a team of the special squad which stormed Makoko suburb in the Yaba area of Lagos State on Sunday, a day after the presidential election, apparently in search of some political actors involved in the exercise.

The PUNCH, quotes residents in the area, as saying that the soldiers were hired by political thugs to carry out a reprisal on their opponents in the community on Sunday, February 26, adding that the soldiers started shooting indiscriminately they got to the community and in the process, a stray bullet hit the victim, who was on his way to buy drinks for his friends to celebrate his birthday.

The soldiers, reportedly led by a political thug identified simply as Nuru, were also said to have gunned down another victim, a tricycle operator, identified simply as Aloma, in apparent mistaken identity, as they seemed to have mistaken him for one of their targets.

Musbau Ayinde, one of Pelumi’s relations, who narrated parts of the details of the incident, was quoted as saying that the killing of the Junior Secondary School Three (JSS3) student could be traced to a clash caused by political rivalry in the community.

He said: “There was a clash between members of two political parties at a base close to Makoko roundabout on Thursday night. The fight was later settled after the intervention of some residents in the area. After that, there was another confrontation between them during the election held on Saturday but that did not lead to a fight and we all thought it had ended there not until Sunday when a thug belonging to one of the political parties brought soldiers and stormed the base where the clash occurred the last time.

“When they got there, they did not meet their targets, so the soldiers who were attached to the OP MESA started to shoot indiscriminately and that was how one of the bullets hit Pelumi in his ribs. A tricycle rider known as Aloma was also shot dead.

“He was about getting passengers at the park when he heard the gunshots and fled. But they thought he was one of their targets and that was how they aimed at him and shot him. Even after he fell down, they came down from their van, moved close to him and shot him again in the head.”

Pelumi’s elder brother, Afeez, who said he was with his friends when a resident told him that his brother had been shot by the soldiers, added: “I was with my friends when the soldiers arrived in the area in a van which had the inscription of OP MESA on it with a covered number plate. That was around 3pm. They came in through the Sabo area with four soldiers hanging at the back of the van.

“Shortly after, someone came to tell me that our last born had been shot. I rushed down to the place and saw my immediate younger sister at the spot trying to lift him (Pelumi) up from the ground. That was when some residents joined to carry him to a hospital at Oko Agbon. When we got there, they referred us to another hospital on Harvey Road. That was where he passed away. The hospital asked us to get a police report before releasing the corpse. So, it was policemen from Adekunle that took the corpse from the hospital and deposited it in the mortuary.”

Stating how Pelumi who just turned 15 years old on the day he was shot, was on his way to  buying drinks to celebrate with his friends when the incident happened, he said: “The people we met at the spot where he was shot said a political thug known as Nuru was sighted in the van of the military officers. And they left the community through Iwaya Road after carrying out the operation.”

Benjamin Hundeyin, Superintendent of Police and spokesman of the Lagos State Police Command, while confirming the killing of the two victims, who were said to have been buried on Wednesday, was quoted as saying: “The case is at the State Criminal Investigation Department. No suspect has been arrested yet and investigation is still ongoing.”

The Deputy Director, Public Relations, 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Olabisi Ayeni, who could not be reached for comment, had yet to reply to a text message sent to his mobile number as of the time this report was filed, the report said.

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