A commercial bus driver, Sunday Bolaji, who was shot by a power-drunk soldier at Magboro Bus stop in the Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State, narrates his ordeal to ABDULLATEEF FOWEWE
Can you explain how you were shot by a soldier?
On Saturday, June 24, I came out to meet a person that would give me the phone number of a customer I wanted to convey to Ibadan the following day (Sunday). So, as I got to Magboro that day, I parked my vehicle at the bus stop. I was, however, trekking along the road to meet the person when someone that looked like the leader of a group of soldiers called me and asked me who parked the vehicle.
I told him that I was the person that parked the bus there. Without further question, he ordered me to give him my vehicle key. When I asked him why I should hand over the key to my vehicle to him, he began to remove his belt from his waist and told me to sit inside the gutter. I told him that I did not do anything wrong to warrant the order that I should sit inside a gutter. I did not steal anything; I did not commit any criminal offence. I was only waiting for my passenger.
Before I knew what was happening, he had burst two of my vehicle’s tyres with a sharp object attached to the nozzle of his gun. He also broke my vehicle’s windscreen and the two side glasses. When I began to run away for my safety, that was when the soldiers started shooting. They shot my back and I fell inside the gutter. I was feeling excruciating pain as a result of the gunshot wound.
How old are you?
I am 45 years old
Where do you reside?
I live at Inu-abule Wawa, Obafemi-Owode Local Government Area of Ogun State.
What time did the incident happen?
It happened between 1:30 pm and 2 pm. As I said earlier, it was on Saturday, June 24, 2023, at the Magboro bus stop in Ogun State.
What were the soldiers doing at the place you were shot?
They were watching over a farm located around Magboro Bus-stop
Did you know the person that took you to the hospital?
I don’t know him and he also doesn’t know me; he just decided to help me. The man was driving and parked immediately he saw me in a pool of blood beside the road before rushing me to the hospital
Were motorists, commuters, and passers-by not present at the scene before the man that helped you came?
People were there, and I called for help but no one came to my rescue. They were afraid and they couldn’t come near me because the soldiers were still there watching. The people at the scene of the incident were afraid of what they (soldiers) could do if they came to help me.
Can you recognise the soldier that shot you?
No, I can’t, but I can identify the soldier if I see him
Has the Nigerian Army visited you?
Yes, they only visited me twice; they came the day the incident happened to check on me. They also came a day after Sallah, Thursday, June 29, 2023. I have not seen them again since then.
Did they come with the soldier that shot you?
No, they didn’t come together but I heard from people that the soldier that shot me had been arrested. I am not sure of that though.
How were they able to know the hospital you were rushed to?
I don’t even know because I was surprised when I saw them during their first visit.
Did they bring money for you?
No, they didn’t bring anything; they just came to check on me. In fact on their last visit, Thursday, June 29, the doctor in charge of my treatment complained to them that he needed money for my treatment; the leader said that they would get back to the doctor. However, since then, we haven’t seen or heard anything from them again.
Did they talk about the incident?
They didn’t talk about it. They just came to check on me; they didn’t ask me anything or discuss anything with me that day.
How far have the police gone investigating the matter?
Yes, they (the police) were involved at some point. On Friday, June 30, the police called the manager in charge of the farm, which the soldiers were guiding to ask him for money to treat me, but he told the police that he would not be able to pay any money and that he had informed his lawyer about the incident. The manager said his lawyer would stand for him and defend him. On that Friday, the manager, his lawyer and my wife were summoned to the police headquarters at Eleweran in Abeokuta. I don’t know what they discussed but my wife told me that the police detained the manager and the person that works as a community spy for the soldiers.
Have the police released them?
I heard that a lawyer had bailed the manager from police custody. Though the police said they were coming to have my statement, since then till the doctor discharged me on Wednesday, July, 5, I have not heard anything from them (police)
Are you saying the police did not show up again?
Yes, I did not see the police or hear anything from them again.
How is your health condition after being discharged from the hospital?
Yes. I feel better, but the problem is that those soldiers did not show up again to know the condition of my health and assist me financially. The day the doctor complained about the shortage of blood in me, they gave the doctor money to get blood for me. The doctor called them the second day that he needed more money to buy needles, syringes and some medicine for me, but they (soldiers) did not respond and we never heard from them again.
Since the army failed to show up again, who paid your hospital bills?
My family is the one paying the hospital bills and we’ve spent up to N350,000. They (soldiers) only came in two times; the day that the incident happened and the day after Sallah.
What do you want the Nigerian Army to do for you?
I want justice because since the incident happened, they only showed up twice and they have not said anything about the incident. We tried to reach them (Army) to ask about how they would help us in getting justice and how they would contribute to the hospital bills, but they said they were not going to do anything again since the newspaper (The PUNCH) had reported it. They also asked whether I would still be talking about them (soldiers) if I had died. They accused the doctor of allowing a journalist to interview me after the incident.
Do you know the name of the soldier that uttered that statement?
No, I don’t know his name, but my younger brother and the doctor that treated me have the soldier’s phone number
Are you taking the Nigerian Army to court over the matter?
Yes, I wish I can take the case to court to get justice but I don’t have money to hire a lawyer. I am still hoping I can see a lawyer who will volunteer to handle the matter for me or get someone that can hire a lawyer for me.
What did you want the government to do for you?
I want justice and I want the Nigerian Government to refund the money I spent on hospital bills. I need another vehicle because my vehicle has been damaged to the extent that it cannot be repaired again. The soldier also shot the engine of the vehicle and it (the engine) stopped working. I got the vehicle based on a hire purchase agreement and I have yet to offset the cost of the vehicle.
Whichever way the government can support me, I will be very grateful because I will not be able to work or do anything that can fetch me money for a year. My health is not good enough for me to start working immediately. My wife and children are also there and I am the breadwinner of the family. Presently, there’s no one they depend on except me and God.
Do you think the person you described as a spy gave them (soldiers) the wrong information about you?
No, I don’t have an issue with anybody there; I usually go to the bus stop to pick up passengers and leave there gently. So, I don’t believe anyone gave the soldiers wrong information about me.
Apart from manning a farm, do you know where the soldiers came from?
Yes, their barracks is very close to ASCON Bus stop, after Ibafo in Ogun State.