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Saula, NURTW boss, murdered

Posted by By JULIANA FRANCIS, TESSY OKOYE and VALERIE OMOKHIUDU on 2008/01/08 | Views: 5578 |

Saula, NURTW boss, murdered

Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Lagos chapter, Alhaji Saka Saula, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside his house in the Iyana-Ipaja area of the state on Sunday night.

Chairman of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Lagos chapter, Alhaji Saka Saula, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside his house in the Iyana-Ipaja area of the state on Sunday night.

The killing, which took place at about 9 pm, sent shock waves throughout Lagos and paralysed activities in some parts of the state on Monday as his supporters went on the rampage, before the police took control of the situation.

Saula’s elder brother, Lateef Obadina, told Daily Sun that the killers came in a car.

He said: “I was at home when I received the call that my brother had been killed. I was told that two people came to visit him. He asked them to wait. He later went down to join them. They sat in front of the building. Within few minutes, another set of people arrived, but they were strange faces to him.”

Obadina further explained that before Saula could make any move, the strangers opened fire on him. The bullets riddled his chest, down to his belly. He was also shot in the legs.
“Nobody could have survived such gunshots,” said Obadina, adding: “They were determined to kill him.”

Saula’s wife, Latifat, also told Daily Sun that two people came to see her husband downstairs. Saula’s house is a two-storey building.
She said: “Suddenly I heard gun shots. There were many shots I couldn’t count. I ran downstairs. I was shouting his name when I got downstairs. I saw his body …” That was all she could say before she broke down in tears.

An eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, said there were three gunmen, who arrived in a jeep. He said they walked up to a kiosk occupied by Saula’s guard and bought cigarettes.
“There were still a lot of people around. It was not that late. The men smoked to their satisfaction, before they went for Saula, who came outside the building to discuss with two men. People saw what happened, but ran away. Saula tried to run but they pursued him. He fell into the gutter but they still kept on shooting him. They killed him like an animal.”

When Daily Sun visited the spot where the murder was committed, a bus at the scene was riddled with bullets. The staircase at Saula’s house was smeared with blood. His body was first taken into the house before he was rushed to the Crown Hospital, where he was rejected, then he was taken to the General Hospital, in Ikeja, where he was confirmed dead.

Pandemonium began to spread early on Monday as the news of Saula’s murder spread like wildfire in harmattan. Commercial activities were paralysed in most parts of Lagos, as members of NURTW went on the rampage at Kollyton, Ikotun, Iyana-Ipaja, Egbe, Idimu and Ejigbo areas.
In those places, markets were deserted as shops were looted and commercial vehicles stayed off the road early in the morning before the police took control of the situation.

One Salam Ibrahim, a union member, described the protest as “the best we can do to honour Saula.”
Already, the police have arrested some suspects including the two men who had visited Saula at the time he was killed. One of them was simply identified as Shina, a union leader in the Ikotun area. The suspects are being detained at the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba.
Ibrahim said: “Ironically, Saula had fixed his mother’s burial for January 26 and had paid a popular musician who will play on the occasion. The way he was killed was too bad. It was last year November that his deputy, Innocent, was poisoned at a forum.”

Forty-five year old Saula, who had served as acting chairman of the union for about four months, had pasted his posters everywhere and mounted billboards announcing his intention to contest the position in an election coming up this weekend.

The protest at Oshodi started late on Sunday night and continued till the early hours of Monday, spilling to other areas, making many people to flee for their lives.

Trouble was said to have started in Oshodi, where the NURTW office is located when news filtered in about the murder of their leader. Irked by the development, members of the union were said to have gone berserk attacking people and destroying everything in sight.

Although no death was recorded, many people sustained injuries from machetes and other dangerous weapons used freely by the rampaging hoodlums. Shops were also looted during the confusion.
When Daily Sun visited the scene, people were seen gathering in groups discussing the incident, while social miscreants were still spoiling for a showdown as they went about wielding dangerous weapons and screaming obscenities at people.

An eyewitness told Daily Sun that nobody knew the cause of the disturbance, but they had to take to their heels when they saw people wielding dangerous weapons and shooting sporadically into the air.
“We are not sure of what might happen any minute in this area. Area boys with blood shot eyes have been brandishing different weapons, threatening to spill blood. We are not just safe,” he said.
Most of the people, who suffered various degrees of injuries were said to be innocent passers-by and residents who were oblivious of the development.

Saula was, last year, sent to Colombia, Brazil and South America by the Lagos Area Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) to understudy those countries’ BRT system.
Kola Ojelabi, LAMATA’s external relations specialist, told Daily Sun that part of the benefits of the trip was the 100 buses ordered by NURTW, which are already with the Lagos State government.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has condoled with Saula’s family, describing the development as saddening.

In a letter of condolence to the family of the deceased, the governor, said it was regrettable that such incident could still occur despite the concerted effort of the state government to stem the crime level, in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies.

He added, however, that the state would not back down on its avowed commitment to safeguard the life and property of every law-abiding citizen.

Fashola added that no effort would be spared in bringing Saula’s assailants to justice. He said: “We will do all that is necessary and use all security and intelligence apparati at our disposal to unravel this unwarranted gruesome murder. We would work with the Police, SSS and other law enforcement agencies to unravel those behind this dastardly act.”

Governor Fashola described the late Saula as a young, enterprising, unassuming, quiet, principled and dogged trade unionist, whose death is totally unwarranted.
He added that in the last two years, Saula had devoted his energies to efforts at taking road transport unionism to the next level in the 21st century, while ensuring sustainable peace within the various transport unions in the state.

All men of goodwill, he said, should support the efforts of the state government to rid the society of criminal elements who constituted only a negligible percentage of the 18 million population of the state.
According to him, it is only by exposing people with criminal intent and cooperation by landlords in refusing to harbour undesirable elements, that the society can be peaceful and secure.
He sympathized with the family of the late union leader, members of NURTW and prayed for repose of the soul of the departed unionist.

The Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro, has ordered an investigation into the killing and the state governor has given the state Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, the assurance of every necessary logistics support to ensure prompt and comprehensive investigation of the matter.
The governor has equally called on the leadership and members of NURTW not to take laws into their hands as reprisal attacks could only worsen the situation and distract law enforcement agencies from promptly fishing out the perpetrators of the act.

The Commissioner for Transportation, Professor Bamidele Badejo, also sympathized with the NURTW and the family of the deceased said that the murder was a callous act of cowardice.
He noted that the murder was an ugly development, a colossal loss and big set back for the NURTW, as the union witnessed monumental growth under the leadership of the slain chairman.
Saula was buried in his compound at Iyana-Ipaja at about 4pm on Monday.

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Comments (23)

emilia(Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria)says...

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Valarie(Nairobi, Kenya)says...

What’s your point?

robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

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ur so boring(To, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

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robloxian(Bangor, Maine, US)says...

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yawning(On, Northern Territory, Australia)says...

Hmmm define weird plz