The family of a 15-year-old boy, Pelumi Sulaimon, have been thrown into mourning after soldiers attached to Operation MESA allegedly shot him dead around Makoko, in the Yaba area of Lagos State.
According to residents in the area, the soldiers were hired by political thugs to carry out a reprisal on their opponents in the community on Sunday, February 26.
PUNCH Metro gathered that when the soldiers got to the community, they started shooting indiscriminately and in the process, a stray bullet hit Pelumi who was on his way to buy drinks for his friends to celebrate his birthday.
The soldiers, who were led by a political thug identified simply as Nuru, were also said to have gunned down a tricycle operator, identified simply as Aloma, whom they mistook of one of their targets.
According to Pelumi’s relative, Musbau Ayinde, the events that led to the death of the Junior Secondary School Three pupil was a result of 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, said he was with his friends when a resident told him that his brother had been shot by the soldiers.
He said, “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.”
Afeez said Pelumi just turned 15 years old on the day he was shot, adding that he stepped out to buy drinks to celebrate with his friends when the incident happened.
“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,” he added.
Our correspondent gathered that Pelumi and Aloma were buried on Wednesday.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident.
“The case is at the State Criminal Investigation Department. No suspect has been arrested yet and investigation is still ongoing,” he said.
The Deputy Director, Public Relations, 81 Division, Nigerian Army, Olabisi Ayeni, could not be reached for comment.
He had yet to reply to a text message sent to his mobile number as of the time this report was filed.