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Sosoliso Crash: Police teargas grieving mothers..•It’s defilement of humanity - Soyinka

Posted by By Joe Omokaro, IKENNA EMEWU, Femi Babafemi, Nana Ahmadu, Ijeoma Ogwuegbu and Ebere Elezie on 2005/12/18 | Views: 571 |

Sosoliso Crash: Police teargas grieving mothers..•It’s defilement of humanity - Soyinka


Police in Lagos Friday demonstrated insensitivity when they brutalised prominent Nigerian women, who planned to hold a peaceful procession against incessant plane crashes.

Police in Lagos Friday demonstrated insensitivity when they brutalised prominent Nigerian women, who planned to hold a peaceful procession against incessant plane crashes.

The women, from different organs, such as concerned mothers of Nigeria,
The Voices for Life, Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCOM) and Women in Law of Development in Africa (WILDAF), as well as the business and academic community had converged at OPIC Plaza on Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja.
Sunday Sun learnt that as early as 7.30a.m. most of the women had arrived the OPIC Plaza for the take-off at 9.30a.m. in a peaceful procession to Lagos State Secretariat Alausa to meet Governor Bola Tinubu.

One of the demands of the women was that President Olusegun Obasanjo should sack the Minister of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Borishade, whom they accused of being the cause of the ugly developments in the aviation industry.
The peaceful protest however turned sour as the police clamped down on the mothers, arresting 15 of them, brutalising them and spraying tear gas freely.
One of those who spoke to Sunday Sun, Mrs. Regina Ezenwa, a pharmacist disclosed that the essence of the procession was to pass their grief to President Olusegun Obasanjo through Lagos State Governor over the Sosoliso plane crash.

According to her, “the Sosoliso plane crash was like a match that ignited the flame. I was invited to give a speech. All women should repent, we are calling for repentance. This is not the time for buck-passing but time for repentance. We want the Aviation industry to be overhauled; we want Education sector to be overhauled so that our children will not travel far distance for education.

Speaking in the same vein, Prof. Jadesola Akande former Vice Chancellor of Lagos State University said that their grievances is to know what President Obasanjo is doing about the Aviation industry. “We want the president to sanitize the Aviation industry and our school system, so that our children don’t have to travel long distance for school. The government should also set up a comfort zone or a counselling and medical zone for those who passed through the trauma. Money cannot compensate everything.

Sunday Sun learnt that police barricaded the OPIC Plaza as early as 7a.m. and were turning off the women. Some of them claimed that some policemen deceived them to go to Bishop Vinning Memorial Church in Ikeja Government Reservation Area (GRA).
Briefing the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, Mrs. Bridget Itsueli narrated how the
policemen teargassed her colleagues. “We got text messages from concerned mothers of Nigeria (the conveners of the forum) a lot of us responded.

As I got to Sheraton hotel, I met some women and some were shouting anybody with inhaler? One of the policemen had thrown a teargas. Before we knew it, another woman was gasping because another teargas was thrown. They were complaining I met another policeman and asked him what was happening he retorted if you want to know, go to Oba Akran police headquarter. I had to meet another officer by name Okafor, he was the one who behaved well and explained what you have just said. And I was impressed by him.”

Sunday Sun gathered that as the women made effort to leave the venue a group of policemen barricaded the road and one of them raised his hand to stop them. “We sat at the culvert waiting for them to explain why they stopped us but one Raheem ordered his men to fire teargas at us, one of them claimed.
It was also learnt that Raheem is a superintendent of police and second in command of MOPOL 20.
One of the women a Swedish Ms. Jessica Smedstand who belongs to WOCOM told Sunday Sun that she has heard negative reports about Nigeria Police and “what I experienced today shows that they are not friendly.”

Prof. Soyinka Friday called off his planned trip to the USA when news broke that police descended on Nigerian mothers, brutalising and tear-gassing them for staging a peaceful protest against the death of their children in air crashes in recent times in Nigeria.

“While I feel speechless with rage, as must every citizen with any sense of decency and compassion, I must state immediately that I am not astonished at this morning police brutality and insensitivity in the tear-gassing of Nigerian mothers with their children - who had gathered to honour the memory of the victims of Nigeria’s latest air disaster”.

Prof. Soyinka in his statement tagged the action of the police as a defilement of the tears from grief by the tears from gas and regretted that “most mothers were elderly. Several were professionals and prominent members of society.
He decried the development as going beyond brutality, but an “ultimate desecration of the sanctity of human loss, a contempt for the trauma of the bereaved, within whose community we presume to include the entire nation”.

Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero who flew hurriedly from Benin city, Edo state where he was attending a function, apologised on behalf of the policemen who teargassed the woman.
He noted that the intention of the women was in order “but it was faulted by procedural error. I was told you had respectable women in that rally.

“Your application was short. I advise that in future you give long notice. Your application was received on December 15 evening for a rally to take place on 16th morning. The short notice was why we had such a disagreement as to the taking place of the rally. The rally was in good cause.”
Regretting the action of his men, Ehindero said I think we have learnt and from this episode we will have to lecture our men on the need for dialogue. I apologise most sincerely. The issue is a national concern, no news will be excluded we know the decadence in the Aviation industry. We are here to serve you.

The over 200 women who earlier converged at Police headquarter to seek release of 15 of their members later walked out on the IG when the Deputy Commander operations, Mr. Haruna John pleaded with them to wait for the IG to address them. Only four women waited behind whom the IG later addressed. He told Haruna to fish out those who use teargas on the armless women and give orderly room trial.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.