By Evelyn Usman
Her line rang out at the first dial. By the time she picked it at the second try, she spoke in a raspy whisper, causing this reporter to strain her ears to hear her.
Twenty-six-year-old Dignity Etukudo, an upcoming artist , was shot by a trigger-happy policeman on August 21, 2021, at Golden Tulip/Shoprite parking lot in Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos.
The Akwa-ibom state born had left Abuja for Lagos, to perform at one of her friend’s wedding reception, only to get more than she bargained for, as a bullet fired by a policeman who was engaged in a verbal confrontation with the celebrant’s relative, hit her. She passed out!
Near-death experience Digi, as she is fondly called, narrated how she was almost killed for attempting to pacify some policemen who were quarrelling with the celebrant’s brother.
Hear her: “The bride is a family friend and I was also one of the bridesmaids. The reception started very late.
“We decided to stay back to allow the traffic in that axis to pine down. While we were at the after-party, I performed.
“As I was coming out to get a cab to go home at about 9 pm or 10 pm, I heard a policeman arguing with the bride’s brother and his friend at the car park.
“I saw one of the policemen hit the bride’s brother with his gun. The policeman was so angry that he threatened to shoot. He positioned his rifle to shoot and I became nervous and started shouting ‘please don’t shoot. He is the bride’s brother’.”
My plea fell on deaf ears. He fired a shot. It happened in a flash. I felt the bullet hit me. The only thing I remembered saying was ‘oga you don kill person. You don kill’… At this point, she paused to take a breath. It was a long wait.
Continuing, she said, “I thought I was dead. The next time I opened my eyes was at the Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo.
“The bullet hit me in the shoulder and pierced out of my back, just four centimetres away from my heart. I had several blood transfusions. I fought to stay alive from the day I was rushed to the hospital. I did a debrimo surgery.
“I can’t move my hand at the moment because it happened around my shoulder”, said Dignity who has been in the entertainment industry for one year.
Another injured victim
When Crime Guard contacted Ozoemena Ebuka, the bride’s brother who was having an altercation with the policeman that prompted Dignity to intervene, he revealed that the policeman broke his skull with the butt of his gun.
Explaining what led to the verbal confrontation that degenerated into a bloodbath, 24-year-old Ebuka, an entertainment artist, said, “Immediately the Disk Jogger DJ stopped the music that night, I left the hall for the car park, ready to leave. The artist I invited to play for my sister as my surprise gift to her, sat behind.
“He left the car to urinate, only for me to see him being harassed by a policeman. He was even running away from the policeman.
“I rushed there and saw three policemen. I introduced myself as the bride’s brother and also told them that the man they were quarrelling with was our guest. In response, one of the policemen asked ‘who are you ?’
“Then he held me on my shirt and I was wearing a tie. He started dragging my tie to choke me. All I asked was why he was rough-handling me.
“By the way, the cause of the ugly show was that our guest was accused of urinating where he was not supposed to.
“People came to beg the policeman to leave me alone but he refused. Dignity came too. His colleague brought out his gun and hit me on the head while the first one still held on to my neck.
“The one that hit me with the butt of the gun, moved away from me and fired a shot into the air. He fired another shot. It was after the second shot that I heard someone say, ‘them don kill me'”
“By the time I turned, I saw Dignity on the floor. Immediately, the man holding my shirt left me. The policeman that opened fire was still threatening to shoot anyone that would come close to him. He fired two warning shots again.
“I rushed to where Didi was, carried her into the car and drove to two different hospitals where we were told they could not treat her.
“They outrightly denied us access in the first hospital. But at the second hospital, they gave her a drip to resuscitate her and referred us to the Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo. Since then, I have been with Didi at the hospital”.
Crime Guard gathered that one of the guests who attempted to video the scene was almost shot by the policeman, who later left the scene with his colleagues.
Policemen from Area ‘E’ Festac have reportedly visited the hospital to visit Dignity and have also taken her statement on what transpired that night.
Information at Crime Guard’s disposal further revealed that the policemen were deployed to Golden Tulip to secure the hotel.
Their identities were yet to be revealed officially at the time of writing this report. But the one that fired the shot was identified by eyewitnesses who gave out his name.
When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Ade Ajisebutu, said he was not aware of the incident.