According to residents, the victim was said to be advising protesting residents on how to conduct themselves during a planned peaceful protest before the police corporal aimed and shot at him.
A press statement signed by the Police PRO, Ngozi Braide, said the alleged killer is Corporal Pepple Boma, attached to the Marine Police, Oworonsoki Division and posted on special duty with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) on demolition exercise at the water front of Makoko.
The statement said Mr. Boma “allegedly shot a man in the stomach. The victim was rushed to the General Hospital, Gbagada where he was later confirmed dead. The corpse has been deposited at the General Hospital, Ikeja for post-mortem examination, while the suspect has been arrested and detained at the State CID Panti, Yaba.”
“The Lagos State Police Command wishes to use this medium to appeal to Lagosians to maintain peace and remain calm as justice must be done in this case, investigation has, however, commenced in the matter, please.”
The demolition exercise started last Monday (July 16) at the community that perches on the lagoon.
According to some residents, the incident, which reportedly happened at about 1pm, was unprovoked. Peter Hunsa, whose father was the first Egun man to settle in the community, said the community “only went out to plead with the government to keep to their word and stop the demolition.”
He said the government, before the demolition, told them that only the structures under a high tension power line would be demolished.
“So, those of us that were not under the power line did not bother but we were surprised that the demolition has continued beyond the power line and it seems they want to demolish every of our houses,” he said.
The peaceful protest was the community’s last resort after they were reportedly shunned by the commissioner for the Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Segun Oniru, at a meeting brokered by Felix Morka, the Executive Director of the Social and Economic Rights Action Centre, on Friday.
“The commissioner refused to receive us,” said the head of all community leaders in Makoko community, Mr. Aganyon. “He only received Dr. Felix, who later came back to tell us that he [the commissioner] refused all entreaties.”
“It was a very peaceful protest. Nobody fought them and while we gathered, they still continued the demolition undisturbed. All of a sudden the police came and started shooting and Timothy was killed,” he said.
Since the demolition started, the entire community has been apprehensive of the bleak future that stares at them. Those already displaced, according to Mr. Hunsa, were sleeping outdoor inside the wooden canoes.
“I am more than 60 years old. I was born in this community. The Egun people have been living here for more than 100 years. Where do they want me to go now?” he asked. “We are fishermen. We did not go to school. We thought they only wanted to demolish the houses under the power line. We did not know that they had ulterior plan,” he said, in Yoruba language.
An eye witness, Mr. Ade Aguntor told our reporter that the deceased was the assistant Baale of Makoko. He said the incident occurred at about 10:30am when the representatives of the community who were sent to Alausa secretariat to hold a meeting with the commissioner for Waterfront, Mr. Adesegun Oniru were still briefing the elders on the outcome of the meeting held on Friday.
Aguntor recalled “At the meeting, the Baale of Makoko Community, Chief Aji Steven was informed that the officials of the state government had arrived to continue with the demolition exercise in his territory. And immediately he heard this, he left the meeting to order his subjects to ensure that they remove all their property from the house before the demolition exercise commenced.”
“Steven who was accompanied by Huntoyanwha sat down to watch how the demolition exercise would commence. As the demolition commenced, Steven further ordered those whose houses were being demolish to park their woods, as it will be useful.
“While the Baale was still directing the dwellers on how to go about it, Peddle stood up from where he was sitting and began to shoot sporadically, adding “one of the bullets met late Huntoyanwha in his left side of his stomach”.
According to him, “Immediately he (Huntoyanwha) was hit by the shot, he alerted the Baale who quickly rushed him into the boat towards Oworonshoki jetty. While on their way to Gbagada General Hospital, Huntoyanwha died.”
A youth in the community, who declined to give his name, said “Government needs to appreciate the maturity of the community’s youth because we could have pushed those police officers inside the lagoon and drown them. They cannot swim better than us but we just wanted peace to reign.”
12 residents were also arrested for protesting on the Makoko lagoon.