The Ilashe area of Ipokia in Ogun State was on Thursday thrown into turmoil as residents protested the killing of a truck welder by a Policeman attached to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FEDSARS) of the state Police Command.
The fatally shot man’s name was given as Paul Hodewu, a.k.a. Agbede.
The incident followed the failure of the deceased to complete a job contracted to him by one Ope.
The Police Officer, whose name was given as Wasiu, was said to have opened fire on Hodewu while the Royal father of the town, Oba John Adewale, the Alase of Ilase was trying to settle the rift between the welder and his customer.
Speaking with Morning Mail at Idiroko, an eyewitness who gave his name as Abiodun said the late Hodewu was given a sum of N600,000, to help in repairing a truck, leaving a balance of N200,000.
The late artisan stopped work on the truck because he had not been given the balance for the job.
His words: “On Wednesday August 16, one Ope led four operatives of FEDSARS to Hodewu’s workshop and demanded that he complete the job or be arrested”.
The late artisan was taken to the palace for the matter to be settled.
At the palace, Hodewu was said to have agreed to complete the work and demanded the payment of his balance. Ope agreed and paid N50,000 in the presence of those at the Palace.
The meeting however ended on a tragic note when one of the FEDSARS operatives led by one Wasiu opened fire on Hodewu, killing him on the spot.
It was learnt that the incident was reported to Idiroko Police Division.
Hodewu’s body has since been deposited in a public mortuary.
It was learnt that Ope has since bolted without a trace.
The incident led to an outrage as residents protested the killing, noting that SARS operatives had of late been deployed by some affluent persons in the community to terrorise people.
The protest lasted several hours as angry residents demanded the removal of the monarch, who they also accused of complicity in the death of Hodewu.
Hodewu’s colleagues in a local chapter of the Welders Association also protested the killing on the streets of Idiroko.
It took the intervention of monarchs from neighbouring communities to calm the protesters who vowed to raze the palace.
A resident, Adebowale Joshua said: ‘’ It was a civil matter messed up by FEDSARS operatives. Why should armed policemen be used to harass an artisan over a job given to him?
‘’The policemen were brought to Agbede’s ( Hodewu) residence by the aggrieved customer called Ope, who lives in Ilashe.
They took him from his house to the palace of a monarch in Ilashe, who brokered peace between Ope and the late artisan.
He (Hodewu) pleaded for more time to complete the job requesting the payment of his service charges (N200,000) and Ope promised to pay him the next day.
‘’While everyone at the palace was happy that the matter had been amicably resolved, no one knows why one of the policemen ‘hired’ by the aggrieved customer fired the shot that killed Hodewu on the spot.’’
Another resident identified simply as Anthonio said SARS operatives were being hired by socialites in the community as security escorts to parties and social gatherings, during which the operatives fire gunshots indiscriminately to scare people all in the name of protecting their principals.
‘’ It is high time the police authorities did something to stop people from hiring policemen especially SARS operatives to protect them at social functions and recover their belongings especially landed property.
In this local government area, it is common to find policemen serving as escorts to unscrupulous businessmen and socialites at social gatherings.’’
The late artisan whose house on SS Road near the Ipokia General Hospital, also served as workshop is survived by his aged mother, one wife and four children.
Speaking on the ugly incident, the first son of the deceased, Sunday Hodewu a Part 3 student of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye described the killer of his father as heartless.
“My father was the sole breadwinner of the family, all our lives depended on him, now with his death, my siblings and mother seem to have a bleak future”.
He called on the Nigeria Police to urgently bring the culprit to look into the matter and bring all the perpetrators of the dastard acts to book so as to serve as deterrent to others.
Speaking to our correspondent, Oba Adewale denied complicity in the matter, adding that he was just invited to settle a dispute.
“It was an Elder in my Church that called me to help in appealing to the Police to release the late Hodewu only for him to be shot by Wasiu who was already under the influence of alcohol”.
Mr Abimbola Oyeyemi, the state Police spokesman, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) could not be reached for comments at press time.