30 May 2014, Lagos – Relatives of one of the nine cops, who were said to have been missing after a shootout between policemen and suspected pipeline vandals in the Arepo community, Ogun State, have expressed fears over the fate of their member.
PUNCH Metro had reported on Monday that that there was a gun battle between the police and vandals, and no fewer than seven were feared dead.
Our correspondent had reported that the police were first attacked by the vandals, and they had replied with equal firepower.
Our correspondent had also reported that the families of some missing policemen had besieged the site, searching for their relatives.
The family of one of the victims, identified as Corporal Timothy Elogbamien, with force number 357816, expressed shock at the way the police authorities had been handling the matter, accusing them of insensitivity.
One of the family members, Akhimien Saturday, told PUNCH Metro on Wednesday that when the family attempted a search of the swamp where the police claimed there was the shootout, they were prevented from doing so.
He said the policemen deployed in the area told the family that they were acting on “order from above.”
Saturday said, “On Sunday, I was in a town’s meeting when around 4pm, I was told my brother had not been home for the past four days. His wife also confirmed this.
“On Monday morning, we heard in the news that there had been an explosion where he was working at Arepo. We sent someone there around 10am and he was told nine policemen were trapped in the area.
“On Tuesday we all went there and we interviewed the policemen who said they were not on duty on the day of the incident.”
He said some people in the area confided in them that the vandals had earlier kidnapped two of the cops before 11 others decided to go and rescue them.
He said before the 11 policemen could near them, the vandals began shooting.
Saturday said two of the policemen however escaped and one of the surviving cops, Corporal Usman John, claimed he survived the attack by “divine help.”
He added, “We then told the police that we wanted to bring out our brother, either dead or alive. An Inspector gave us the name of somebody to paddle the canoe that would take us there and we called him.
“Around 4pm, the canoe man came and we were preparing to go when another cop showed up and said they had received an order that nobody should go there.”
An argument reportedly ensued between the family and the policemen at the site who challenged Saturday and the rest of the family members. The policemen subsequently chased them away from the place with dogs.
Another relative of the missing corporal, who did not identify himself because he was also a police officer, asked the authorities to probe the surviving officers.
“I believe they are not telling the whole truth. It was at night that they were all attacked, how did the two of them manage to escape? How did they swim out of the swamp in police boot? They stopped us from going to that place because they knew that when we get there, the truth will be revealed? We need the corpse of our brother,” he said.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, could not be reached as his phone line rang out several times.
– The Nation