By Jane Daniel
A prosecution witness, Mr Steven Aji, in the on going trial of a dismissed Policeman, Corporal, Pepple Boma, who allegedly killed a resident at Makoko waterfront, on Tuesday told a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, that the deceased was shot in the stomach.
He said that before the incident occurred they got a 24 hours notice from the Lagos State government to leave the settlement.
Aji, who is the Baale (Head of Community), of Makoko waterfront settlement, was led in evidence by the Lagos State Prosecuting counsel, Mr Hafeez Owokoniran.
The witness told the court that after they received the notice, he and his chiefs went to see their lawyer, who advised them not to fight with the Lagos State government officials, that they should plead for more time to enable them find another settlement.
He narrated to Justice Modupe Nicole-Clay, the officials and Policemen, immediately after serving them the notice, started destroying their houses and their little children fell into the Lagoon and when they made attempt to rescue the children, they were beaten with horsewhip.
Aji said: “They came with electric saw blades and were cutting down the plank houses on the Lagoon and our belongings and little children fell into the Lagoon, so as we ran to rescue our children, they beat us with horsewhip.”
“While that was going on, people were calling me and when I got there, I saw eight policemen, who were shooting sporadically and were also beating the people, that were trying to rescue the children with horsewhip,” he said.
The witness also said that he saw four policemen each on both side of the Lagoon with flying boat, and he then told his chiefs and subjects not to fight with the government official.
Aji, who was the second prosecution witness, also told the court that while they were trying to pacify the officials to give them more time, to enable them leave the waterfront, he saw the defendant shot the deceased Timothy Hunpoyanwa in the stomach.
“The deceased started shouting Baale my stomach, my stomach, then I saw the deceased in the pool of his blood in the canoe, the other three policemen, who were with the defendant, started blaming him, that they had warned him to stop shooting;
My subjects wanted to start fighting, then I told them not to fight them, I asked the policemen to transfer the deceased into their canoe, since they have succeeded in shooting one of my chiefs, so we transfered him into their boat and then went to the hospital” Aji said.
The witness who said that the deceased Hunpoyanwa, was his second in command, told Justice Nicole-Clay that before they got to Gbagada some of his subjects and policemen, were already there and by the time they arrived, the doctor confirmed that the deceased was dead on arrival.
He said that after the confirmation of the death of the deceased, he took the corpse to the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, then he went to make statement at a Police station in Ikeja, but that he can’t remember the exact police station.
During cross examination by the defendant’s counsel, Mr Olowude Bashua, the witness told the court that they have been leaving in that settlement for a very long time, and 24 hours is not enough for them to pack out of the place.
The witness said that the houses that were destroyed, are 20, adding that they could no longer carry out the operation, after they killed the deceased.
When asked the number of days the demolition of the shanties take, he said two days.
Aji said ” They started demolishing the houses in the evening and when night caught up with them, they went back and came back the next day. It was on the next day that the defendant killed the deceased and after that, they stopped coming”.
“It was God that saved us because the defendant was already drunk when I transferred the corpse into their boat”, he said.
According to him, if the defendant, had not shot and killed my chief, they would have been able to demolish the shanties without any loss of life.
Earlier, the deceased brother, Francis Hunpoyanwa, who was the first prosecution witness, told the court that he was at home, when he heard that his elder brother was shot.
He said ” I was not there when he was shot, I was at home busy removing the roof of our house, it is only the Baale that can tell the court how he was shot”.
The Lagos State government had sometimes in 2013, arraigned a dismissed Police officer Corporal People Boma, over alleged manslaughter.
He was alleged to have unlawfully killed one Timothy Hunpoyanwa, by shooting him with a gun.
The incident occurred on July 21, 2013, at about 1:20pm, at Makoko Yaba in Lagos.
According to the prosecution, the offence committed is contrary to Section 222 of the criminal law of Lagos state 2011.
The case was adjourned till February 26, 2020 for continuation of trial.