A stray bullet fired during a skirmish between the police and protesting commercial motorcyclists (also known as Okada riders) in Lagos pierced the stomach of a schoolgirl and ruptured her bladder, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
Mariam Shobukola, 15, had accompanied her school principal to make a payment at a Point of Sales (PoS) shop in Aboru, Iyana Ipaja, when she was caught up in an ensuing melee after scores of commercial motorcyclists began agitating against the high handedness of police officers enforcing the Lagos State traffic law.
The Lagos State government began the enforcement of the state’s Transport Reform Law on February 1. The police, however, had received severe criticisms after they began enforcing the law outside the legislation’s coverage areas.
On Wednesday, violence erupted at the Iyana Ipaja area between commercial motorcyclists and security operatives of the Lagos State Task Force.
After she was hit, Mariam, a pupil at Delight International School, Aboru, was quickly taken to Peak Health Hospital where she was stabilised before she was referred to General Hospital, Orile Agege, for further treatment.
Mukaila Shobukola, her father, told PREMIUM TIMES that she suffered “serious damages” as the bullet entered her stomach through her hip.
The result of the Computerized Tomography (CT) scan showed that the bullet, indeed, penetrated the young’s girl’s abdomen through the right side of her hip.
“The police caused all this, why would they shoot in the neighbourhood? Now we have been left on our own to bear the pain,” said Mr Shobukola.
“I am not a motorcycle operator neither is any member of my family before we were caught up in this unfortunate incident.”
Gladys Ihezuo, the principal at Delight International School, told PREMIUM TIMES that the proprietor sent her to send money to the school’s book supplier but because she was unfamiliar with the area, Mariam was asked to accompany her to the PoS shop.
Mrs Ihezuo narrated that there was no sort of violence in the area, while they were at the POS shop.
“Everywhere was calm, people cannot be running and we will be on the street,” she said.
“We had finished the payment, we wanted to collect the receipt when I heard gunshots from a distance. She shouted my name and I saw her on the floor beside me.”
“I didn’t even know her name, I tried helping her up before I saw blood all over her, this was when I started shouting for help,” Mrs Gladys said.
The principal said people began to run helter-skelter in the melee that ensued.
“While others were running, about two men stopped and helped us, if we didn’t move her to one side, stampede would have occurred,” she said.
Mr Shobukola, who works as a painter, said he was at work when he was called that his daughter was shot.
“We have been moving her around since then, from Orile Agege hospital, we were referred to LASUTH (Lagos State University Teaching Hospital), about three surgeries have been done.”
Mariam Shobukola, stray bullet victim.
“Just between yesterday, we have spent nothing less than ₦135,000 and there are still bills of over ₦100,000 awaiting payment.
“This is a General Hospital but nothing is free here, I don’t know where to run to, this is unfortunate,” Mr Shobukola said.
Efforts to reach the Lagos police spokesperson, Bala Elkana, were unsuccessful as he neither returned nor responded to phone calls. He later sent a message to PREMIUM TIMES saying “CP (commissioner of police) has ordered an in-depth investigation into the case.”
Media reports had erroneously said the schoolgirl was shot dead.
But during Wednesday’s incident, Mr Elkana had said no life was lost in the attack, ”but Salifu Umar, an Inspector of police was injured by the hoodlums.”