A police officer in Damaturu, Yobe State, shot at a bus on assumption that the vehicle was smuggled killing a teenager in the process.
The news of gunshots at a bus that led to the death of 14-year-old boy, Faruq Olaruwajo, has been trending in Damaturu, the Yobe State capital since the incident happened a week ago.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that an officer with the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), on routine stop and search operation on Damaturu–Maiduguri highway, allegedly opened fire on a vehicle the boy and his mother were travelling in. A bullet was said to have pierced the door and struck the teenager in the belly. The boy bled to death.
The Yobe State Commissioner of Police, Abdumaliki Sunmonu, who described the incident as unfortunate said the vehicle was a smuggled Mercedes Benz car and had picked the teenager and his mother from Kano.
He said the vehicle, which has no plate number, sped off when the shot was fired. “A bullet hit the boy who was rushed to the hospital but later died. Though, the police is not supposed to shoot to kill,” Sunmonu said.
He said the driver only returned to the checkpoint almost an hour after the incident.
Although the commissioner did not mention the name of the officer who shot Faruq, he confirmed that the officer and driver have been detained to allow careful investigation of the case.
The mother of late teenager, Ms Remi Latifatu, argued that the police did not stop them at the checkpoint, saying they only heard four gunshots from behind. She said they were cracking jokes in the vehicle when Faruq noticed blood gushing out of his stomach.
“I started shouting and the driver quickly returned to the checkpoint. One of the officers was crying, he held my child tight and rushed him to the hospital. In fact this heartless shooter has deprived me the entire joy of my life. Faruq was my only son,” she sobbed.
She said the police only informed her that the boy had died until after three days. “They lied that he was on referral to University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital. I went to Maiduguri and another officer told me that he was taken back Damaturu. They fooled me for almost three days before my nephew who came from Osun State broke the sad news that Faruq was dead,” she lamented.
Latifatu said she was a regular kolanut seller to Maiduguri and she always went with the boy to introduce him to her customers and the terrain.
“The Police should have asked whatever they wanted and spared my child. He was the only person I had and they have taken him away. I am pleading with the Inspector-General of Police to follow-up on this case and prosecute that officer because we did not break any law,” she said.
Also, the driver told newsmen that the police didn’t stop him for search and that he drove the vehicle from Lagos passing through all the checkpoints because his particulars are genuine and intact.
“What I expected from the officer was to stop me if he was in doubt but he did not. It was a free flow and I was among the vehicle they have cleared. So, even as at the time he fired I didn’t know it was targeted at us until we noticed the boy bleeding,” he said.
The Assistant Secretary-General, Network for Civil Society, Mr Ishaku Adamu, regretted what led to the deadly shooting that claimed the life of the innocent boy.
According to him, “police said the driver beat the checkpoint in a smuggled vehicle, while the mother said they drove smoothly in a legal traffic flow before the office shot at them.”
Adamu said the organization had been following the case closely and would continue to do so until justice was served. “The innocent child traveling with his mother had covered thousands of miles. The police action has taken away the woman’s happiness because he was her only child,” he said.
“We also learnt that the driver has produced genuine documents, including the customs duty but he is still under detention,” he added.