By Ifeanyi Okoli
No fewer than four persons were feared dead and 25 others seriously injured during an early morning clash that erupted at the Ajegunle area of Lagos State between the police and a mob protesting alleged murder of a man by the police. The victim was identified as Charles Okafor, aged 23.
Several houses and vehicles burnt during the protest which saw some anti-riot policemen from the Ajeromi Police Division engaging the mob in a free for all, along Bale Street. The mob had attempted to burn down the station.
Traders at the popular Boundary market shut their shops and fled for fear of being attacked by the mob.
It was gathered that the victim whose death sparked the protest was killed while watching a match between Liverpool and BenficaÂ at a viewing center located at Yunusa Street, off Olayinka lastÂ Thursday.
An eyewitness, who gave his name asÂ Adewale Idris and claimed to be a friend to the deceased, said the police had invaded the viewing center and ordered everybody inside to lie face down while they searched their pockets.
According to him, Charles, who was also lying on the ground while the police were searching others, refused a policeman from searching his pocket.Â â€œThe policeman that was searching him ordered him to stand up and he complied. The policeman then slapped him and he slumped. But the policeman thought he was faking and he hit him on the head with the butt of his gun, but Charles did not move. He continued hitting him for about seven times before he stopped and they handcuffed the rest of us and took us away in their waiting vanâ€, the eyewitness said.
Meanwhile, the identities of those allegedly killed during the protest could not be ascertained but Lagos State police public relations officer, Mr. Frank Mba, when contacted,Â said no life was lost. He added that only three persons were injured which include two police officers.
According to Mba, the policemen had invaded the viewing centre having learnt it was a hideout for hoodlums. â€œThe policemen arrested the victim but he was released when they learnt he was innocent.Â Later, they learnt he was dead.
TheÂ DPO of the station was asked to check whether there was any bullet wound or any form of struggle that may have led to his death, but none was found.â€
An official of the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Oladimeji Ige, who was on ground during the protest told Sunday Vanguard that his team treated over 25 injured victims but said they could not find bodies of the three persons allegedly killed in the protest.