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RULAAC calls for unbiased investigation into Ladipo shooting 

Joy Anyim
The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called on the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to order an unbiased investigation into the shooting and alleged killing of four persons at Ladipo Auto Spare Parts international Market, in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Recall that on Tuesday, July 13, men in military uniform, said to be Air Force personnel, stormed the market, shooting sporadically, resulting in injuries and alleged fatalities.
Although there are conflicting reports on the said cause of the military invasion of the market, some have it that the military men came on the invitation of a customer, who insisted on returning a good, which was in bad shape.
It was learnt that three injured persons are also at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), fighting for their lives, following gunshot wounds sustained during the massive shooting. Cars were also said to be riddled with bullets.
Expressing shock over the sad incident, RULAAC said there was need for fact finding. This is as it stated that the military has no business meddling in civil dispute.
In a statement by RULAAC’s Director, Okechukwu Nwanguma, the body condemned the act of brutality.
Nwanguma said: “Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) is shocked at the disturbing news of the attack and use of lethal weapons on traders at Ladipo Auto Spare Parts international Market, in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State by military personnel on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 which resulted to the death of at least four persons and injuries on many others.
“There are conflicting accounts of what actually led to the invasion of the crowded market by military personnel who came in OP MESSA Hillux Vans and started shooting live bullets directly at traders resulting in fatalities and injuries. But all accounts point to the fact that there was a dispute between a customer, who purchased an auto spare part at the market and returned with the part, demanding a replacement after the expiration of the warranty.
“This resulted in arguments and altercations and then a fight between the customer (who was said to either be a soldier or was accompanied by his soldier-friend) and some executive members of the traders union. The man was said to have run out and invited a military patrol team, which arrived and started shooting directly at traders. Vehicles within the market were riddled with bullets as could be seen in one of the videos recorded at the scene.
“The exact details of what actually led to the shooting need to be investigated. But we are concerned about the involvement of military personnel in what appears to be a civil dispute and the use of lethal weapons on unarmed civilians.
“The role of the military in a civilised democracy is clearly spelt out and does not include meddling in civil matters. The arms given to the military and purchased with tax payers money are given to them to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria and not to use them to kill their fellow citizens whom they are employed and paid to protect.”
He added that the latest action underscores the impunity that continues to fuel wilful, unjustifiable, illegal and excessive use of force by security forces against civilians.
 “Otherwise, why would the military, so soon again, be involved in yet another incident of the use of live bullets on unarmed civilians while investigations are yet to be concluded into the similar use of deadly force against protesters at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos in October 2020?
“RULAAC calls on the Lagos State governor to order an investigation with a view to unravelling the circumstances, identifying the perpetrators of this latest act of abuse of power and misuse of firearms.”
Adding that all the military personnel responsible for the act should be brought to account. Nwanguma said the victims should also be accorded adequate remedies while steps should be taken to avoid a repeat of such reckless and shameful episodes.
President of the spare parts market, Jude Nwako, had also condemned the invasion. Speaking during a press briefing, he revealed that the market had been shut down in solidarity with the wounded and slain traders.

Nwako said: “It is quite unfortunate that soldiers will come into the market and start shooting directly at traders like they are animals.

“It is getting out of hands; soldiers taking laws into their hands and we are here talking about kickstarter worth of how much? N3,500. Somebody is dead, which we don’t know how many have died; so many are still in the hospital.”

While reacting to the sad incident, the Nigerian, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF),  has said the operatives involved are being interrogated at the Logistics Command of NAF, Ikeja. 

Edward Gabkwet, NAF spokesperson, said investigation was ongoing.

He said: “We were told that an army personnel and a civilian friend of his went to Ladipo market to confront someone that was alleged to be owing the army personnel. While at the market, an argument ensued leading to an exchange of blows.

“The army personnel were subdued, the civilians ran out to look for assistance. He saw some Air Force personnel on patrol. He beckoned on them that a soldier was under attack.

“When they got to the scene to contain the fight, the traders started hauling stones at them. Along the line, one of the traders attempted to snatch a rifle from one of the Air Force personnel. He succeeded, snatched the rifle and attempted to shoot our personnel. The soldier was able to retrieve the rifle and opened fire on the traders.

“The Nigerian Air Force personnel that were in that market did not really kill anybody. The  soldier who  took the rifle that was snatched from OP MESSA opened fire in self-defence.

“Our Base Commander was able to calm the situation. He visited the scene. Those involved have been arrested and are under investigation. We heard only one person was shot. An investigation is, however, ongoing.”