Woman tells Lagos Panel: How SARS fired a shot that shattered my leg

Admin 29-Nov-2020 Nigeria_News

Hannah Olugbodi, a hairstylist, has said she was hit by a stray bullet fired by an officer of the now-disbanded Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), which shattered her leg.

She spoke before the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing allegations of human rights abuses against the police on Saturday.

According to her, she returned home from work with her husband and children before collecting money from her husband to buy pepper to make dinner. As she went to the market she heard gunshots.

"I was hit by a stray bullet and I remember passing out, I woke up in a car at LUTH. I was in so much pain,” she said, adding that after being given four packs of drip, she realised she could not move her left leg, at which point she noted she shouted: “My God, why me?”

According to her, the doctor told her that saving the leg was 50/50 and that it could be amputated, disclosing four surgeries were recommended.

“The first was to put a metal in the leg, the second was to cut parts of the bone which the bullet had cut to fragments because it wouldn’t survive. The 3rd surgery was a skin graft,” she said.

The petitioner then showed the panel the extent of her injuries, saying she was still in pains and her entire life had since changed owing to the stray bullet that hit her.

According to her, she had not been able to work, feed her children or perform basic chores, since the unfortunate incident, adding that her husband has had to sell his land to pay for her treatments.

She said she spent six months at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and no police official visited, noting that at a point, the hospital threatened to stop treating her as the family exhausted their cash.

The petitioner presented a lot of hospital bills and documents in support of her case. She also presented photos of her injuries detailing every stage of her surgeries, adding that she had written letters to the Lagos State Government and the Ministry of Justice seeking for financial assistance and redress, but received nothing in response.

The panel admitted the letters in evidence as exhibits.

The petitioner said she requires further plastic surgery so her legs can be “balanced”.

Under cross-examination by counsel to the police, Joseph Eboseremen, she admitted that she did not write any letter to the Commissioner of Police. The counsel also asked if she has any of the pellets extracted from her leg at LUTH to which she replied, “the bullet scattered my bone.”

And even though she said she has no ballistic report, she was emphatic that the gunshots came from a SARS official.

At the prompting of the police counsel, the petitioner’s husband, Oluwaseun Olugbodi, was called to also testify.

Mr Olugbodi said he heard the gunshots and watched the scene from his balcony and that neighbours then came to tell him his wife had been shot.

He recounted how they went round to different hospitals, from the Igbobi Hospital to the military hospital before they were accepted at LUTH.

He said officials at LUTH told him that his wife’s leg would be amputated if he didn’t provide money for her treatment on time. He said he then ran around family and friends trying to raise money.

Regarding how he knew that it was SARS who shot his wife, the witness said he was told by some hotel staff that the SARS officials came to a nearby hotel where a group of boys were watching football. SARS suspected that these were yahoo boys and when they resisted arrest, the SARS officials shot into the air.

“It was one of those bullets that hit my wife,” he said, adding the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) later confirmed it was SARS officials from Gbagada who fired the bullet.

On being asked by the counsel if he had any evidence to prove there was any shooting on the day in question, he replied in the negative.

The case was adjourned by Justice Doris Okuwobi (rtd), Chairman of the panel, to 8 December.

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