A police sergeant attached to the Sabon Gari Division, in Katsina, on January 1 killed two children and injured three others after firing gunshots at the venue of a wedding engagement party, DAILY NIGERIAN has reliably gathered.
The deceased children, identified as Abduljawab Muhammad and Umar, were hit by stray bullets fired by the cop.
The incident happened barely a week after a police officer, Drambi Vandi, killed a female lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, on Christmas Day in Lagos, sparking nationwide outrage.
Sources told DAILY NIGERIAN that all was well in the peaceful area of the Katsina metropolis on that fateful day until around 6:00pm when the policeman, identified as Sergeant Umar, stormed the venue of the party and ordered the Disc Jockey, DJ, to switch-off his musical instruments.
DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that DJs in the area normally pay N2,000 to N3,000 bribe to the police to give cover against miscreants.
But DJ and the guests resisted the police personnel’s attempts to extort and prevent them from observing their right to lawful assembly.
After being provoked by the resistance of the youths to stop him from enforcing the illegal order, Mr Umar left the venue and returned with reinforcements of three vigilante members.
Upon their arrival, Mr Umar allegedly fired two shots, which hit the five victims consecutively.
Speaking to DAILY NIGERIAN, the father of one of the victims, Yusuf Ahmad-Rufai, said his 9-year old son, Jawwad Muhammad, was returning from an Islamic school when the stray bullet hit him from behind.
“On that fateful day, Jawwad was returning from Islamiyya [Arabic school] when he was hit with a stray bullet from the venue of the wedding engagement party, because the venue is not far from the school.
“We were told that a police officer went there and asked the DJ to switch off his instruments, but the youths who were having fun vehemently resisted.
“They began to shout at him to allow them to continue with their party. So, he left and returned after a few minutes with some vigilante operatives.
“And the next thing he did was fire a shot at the crowd. The bullets hit three people, including my son who was behind. The bullet also hit a six-year-old boy named Umar.
“The bullet penetrated into his (Jawwad’s) spinal cord, which led to excessive bleeding.
“He was rushed to the Federal Medical Center, Katsina, where he was later confirmed dead.
“The other boy (Umar) also gave up, while the remaining three sustained severe injuries,” he said.
The death certificate of Mr Muhammad released by the FMC Katsina, which was obtained by our correspondent, indicated that he died of a spinal cord injury caused by two gunshots.
“They couldn’t remove the bullets before he died before the operation… He was still in the pool of his blood when we performed the funeral prayer, because the two bullets were still in his body and he couldn’t stop bleeding.
“So we have to bury him like that. Even the maqara (a kind of stretcher) we used was stained with blood,” he stated.
He however chastised the police spokesman in the state, Gambo Isah, for downplaying the incident by claiming the officer shot at the crowd for self defense from miscreants who wanted to snatch his rifle.
The grieving father said the family was informed by the DCO of the Sabon Gari division, Aliyu Kangiwa, that the sergeant went to the scene of the party for an illegal operation as he wasn’t on duty.
“My son is just a 9-year-old who was returning from school. How can you call him “Dan Daba” (thug)? That’s an irresponsible statement from the police spokesman,” he said.
Mr Rufa’i appealed to human rights groups and the media to assist the family in finding justice for their late son and all the victims of the unfortunate incident.
Also speaking, Jawwad’s mother, Shafa’atu Bishir sexpressed her frustration, saying she only wants justice for her son.
“I’m frustrated. I’m yet to believe that my son was killed by security personnel. I want justice for my son. The last time I checked my blood pressure, I was told my blood pressure is high,” she said in a tearful voice.
Ummi Abdallah, the mother of another victim, Abduljamiu Yusuf, a final year student at the Federal College of Education, while narrating what transpired, said her son’s fingers were chopped off as a result of the bullet strike.
“My son was standing in front of his room when the bullet hit his right hand fingers. He wasn’t even at the venue, though it’s very close to the house.
“He is a final-year student of the Federal College of Education, Katsina, and will commence his examinations on Monday. Now look at the permanent damage done to his hand. He has lost his right hand fingers forever,” she lamented.
“The perpetrators must be made to face justice because this is unacceptable.
“I’m appealing to human rights groups and all well meaning Nigerians to assist the affected families in seeking justice,” she added.
When contacted, the spokesman of the Katsina state police command, Gambo Isah, declined to speak to our correspondent.
But the special adviser to the governor on security matters, Ibrahim Ahmad, said the government is still waiting for police and the local community to report on the incident.
“We are still waiting for the police and the local community to confirm the report.
“Most of these incidents, when they happen, the police will inform the state government, and the leaders of the local community will also confirm it to us. But up till now, they have yet to do that. And that is what would guide our next line of action,” he said.