On the first Monday of February 2014 when many looked forward to the new month with aspirations, tragedy struck at Ayinla Junction in Agbado area of Ijaiye Ojokoro Local Government Area of Lagos: the life of a 36-year-old tricyclist, Richard Samuel, was allegedly terminated by a trigger-intoxicated OP MESA official, simply identified as Mohammed, over the tricyclist’s failure to pay an illegal daily levy of N500.
Events surrounding murder
According to Adegoke Samson, Chairman of the Agbado/Dalemo unit of the Tricycle Owners Association of Nigeria, TORA, who narrated the event to Sunday Vanguard, when two OP-MESA officials approached him around 10.am with vehicle number plate KJA 971 AR and inscription ‘OP MESA 039’ for the usual N500, he summoned Samuel, popularly known as Small Sunday, being their Financial Secretary, to hand them the sum. But there were only N1,000 notes with Samuel and he asked to be excused to go and get smaller denomination of the notes.
As reported by Adegoke, while Samuel was away to get the smaller naira notes, another tricyclist in same association came by and acerbically queried why they should attend to the officers who had already collected same amount of money from a neighbouring tricycle unit. Meantime, one of the officers, Mohammed, had become angry and probably suspicious of Samuel’s intention.
“He left and returned later in rage, grabbing Samuel by his trousers and ordering him to enter into their vehicle. He queried him saying: ‘So you don’t want to give me the money? Do you think I am a police officer? I will kill you now!’. Samuel was stunned at his outrage and refused to enter their vehicle. At this time, he had the N500 note and was pleading with the man to collect it. Instead of yielding, the officer suddenly pointed his gun at Samuel at close range and shot him dead on the spot.
When his colleague, a fellow officer, queried his superfluous action, he immediately shot him dead as well, ordering a private vehicle owner driving past to stop, at gun point, and dragging the corpse of his colleague into the vehicle whose driver he immediately ordered to drive off. He could not use their vehicle because he had punctured one of its tyres in the course of his shooting-spree. That was how he escaped and left their driver who was later apprehended by officers of Ebenezer Police Station by Block Bus Stop in Jankara”, Adegoke told Sunday Vanguard.
Visit to deceased’s home
When Sunday Vanguard visited the late Samuels’s home, joy seemed to have vanished into thin air for the entire family. From the face of his surviving wife to his four children who repeatedly enquired about the whereabouts of their father and surviving 58-year-old mother who cried incessantly for justice, hope appeared a dream of the night.
Samuel’s widow, Mrs.Rukayat Samuel, a 30-year-old housewife who trained as a chemist and auxiliary nurse but was advised by her husband to stay at home to care for their children, couldn’t fight back tears as she spoke.
“When a friend called to inform me that Monday morning, I shouted and fainted. I demanded to know my husband’s killer and was taken to Ebenezer Police Station where the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, informed me that the matter had been immediately transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department, Panti that Tuesday morning since it was a murder case.
The police at the Ebenezer station tried very well for me. They offered to take me and my accompanying family members to Panti, which they did the following day. There, I saw the OP MESA vehicle used by my husband’s killer.
OP MESA justifies killing
“We were shocked to find out that that same Wednesday morning, OP MESA officials were at Panti to demand the release of the driver of the vehicle. The police, however, insisted Mohammed must be fished out first. We were told the OP MESA officials claimed my husband was shot because he was caught smoking marijuana in a marijuana joint.
That is blatant lie because a crowd of people at Ayinla junction witnessed how he shot my husband and then shot his colleague who reacted. Now they want to play trick and cover up the crime to prevent justice. The policemen at Panti later informed us that Mohammed had been detained in their office at PWD, near Oshodi.
”The truth is that my husband never even smoked cigarette, not to talk of Marijuana. I had known him for 17 years. He never smoked cigarette and he never came home late at night. His job has been riding the tricycle for some years now.”
Recollecting memories of her late husband, Rukayat said: “The last moment I had with him was on phone. He had called me that Monday around 9.am to greet and know what I would like him to buy for me when returning home. This is so painful because before, now, I had lost two children; one was a stillborn and the other, a three-year-old child. My husband was a peace-loving man and I’m sure he kept no extra-marital affair because he usually called me to meet him at a joint where he always treated me to soft drinks and nice meals. That was how he always relaxed.
“My husband was the sole breadwinner of our home and also his immediate family, including his mother. We all depended on him. He was the one paying the school fees of his children and that of his siblings. In fact, he gave a certain amount of money to his mum every week. Our four children are all in school. The first is 14-year-old and he is in SS1 in a boarding school. The second is in JSS3, the third is in Primary 5 and the fourth is in kindergarten.
“In fact, he had promised to buy a plot of land for his mum by the middle of this month. He even told me that Monday morning that he had part of the money he wanted to use to buy the land in his pocket because he had just collected it from the contribution he was part of. We were to go make part-payment that evening. His younger brother who took his body to the mortuary with policemen said that by the time they got to the mortuary and the attendant there undressed him and cleaned him up, there was no longer money in the pockets. Even his cell phone and I.D card were missing.”
My last moments with son —Deceased’s mum
The mother of the deceased, Victoria Samuel, fought back tears as she spoke, recollecting the memories and her last moments with her first son.
Victoria said: “My last moment with him was the day before his death. He was the one feeding me. I never thought he would not live to bury me. I am helpless and lonely now. I just want government to have mercy on me.
Get justice for my son and help his family. In my days as a younger person, soldiers lived in the barracks; I wonder why soldiers, now in the name of OP MESA, extort motorists at their parks and even shoot those who do not oblige them on time! Lagos State government and the police should please fish out the killer-soldier, Mohammed. Otherwise, he will go on killing others with impunity. Now he has made my son’s children fatherless and his wife, a widow; no one to take care of us now.”