Sunday, December 27, 2015 4:21 pm
Kazeem Ugbodaga & Eromosele Ebhomele
Sergeant Stephen James, the officer of the Nigeria Police Force who killed three residents and also took his own life in the Ketu area of Lagos, western Nigeria on Boxing Day was known more as “Terrorist”
“Guys around always called him Terrorist and he was proud to be associated with the nickname, excited anytime he was hailed,” Sule Ajayi, a 26-year old resident of Ketu, who said he got to the scene minutes after the incident, told our correspondents.
Sergeant James, with Force number 217884, shot dead a set of twins, whose names were given as Taiwo and Kehinde Oyesunle as well as a third person simply called Jeje at the Paulson Hotel located on Anibaba Street, Ketu during the football match between Chelsea and Watford. He later shot himself to death.
The Police officer, with the Mobile Police, MOPOL 22, located in Oduduwa Street, Ikeja, was always seen at the hotel and there was the popular belief in the area that he was drafted to guard the hotel and its personnel.
A resident who lives beside the hotel, but refused to mention her name for fear of being persecuted, revealed that the late police officer had often told people that he was in charge in the hotel and that the security of the hotel was in his hands.
“Many times, he had threatened people, both residents of this our area and those who patronise the hotel. When he is charged, he would yell at people over any slight provocation and threaten to shoot and kill. He would often say he is on official assignment and as a result, has licence to kill and that he could kill and label a person an armed robber and that instead of punishing him, the police authority would promote him,” the woman said, “as a result, we were very scared of him because he went about armed.”
Residents of the area who spoke with our correspondents confirmed that Sergeant James was often drunk. Some said he often smoked too.
“Just four days ago, a young man, who visits the hotel often with his friends, came to this hotel and as usual, bought drinks for this policeman.
“While they were discussing and throwing banters, he started bragging again of how he loved shooting. The man who bought him drinks told him: ‘oya, show your power now’. The policeman brought out his gun and released four times into the air.
“Many people in the neighbourhood were scared but they later heard that it was James. That’s how we had been coping with him not knowing he was a danger waiting to happen,” Ajayi said.
When our correspondents visited the hotel on Sunday morning, the premises was shut. Signs of the incident were glaring.
A source said some of the staff of the hotel had been arrested by the police and that a police officer told the residents that the owner of the centre or those who had a hand in the incident would be prosecuted because it was wrong to give a policeman in uniform alcohol as specified in the Liquor Act.
A resident said there was an unverified claim that the affected twins were the only children of their parents. The addresses of the victims could not be immediately ascertained, but it was learnt that residents around the scene of the incident scampered when it occurred.
“Some of the residents are yet to return home. Some came back last night when they were sure that the police would not go after them,” a resident who simply gave his name as Sunday, said.
We obtained two versions to the incident. The first version was that one of the three killed residents had a problem with some people in the hotel and the policeman was called from where he sat to intervene.
In the heat of the arguments, he was said to have shot the man and the other two who wanted to challenge him. Realising the enormity of his action, he shot himself in the chest.
The other version states that the deceased policeman had threatened customers who came to the hotel to celebrate Boxing Day.
It was learnt that as they drank, officer James went from table to table threatening some and asking others to buy him drinks. He also went to the table where the twins and their friend sat and when he made his demand, they had told him to be patient.
But as he continued to cause trouble, one of the twins was said to have asked him to act responsible for once. This statement was said to have provoked him and he went outside the hotel and waited for them to get out.
A source said the shooting at the front of the hotel occurred after a hot argument between the trio and the policeman.
Their corpses were later taken to a morgue in Ikorodu with the police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Joe Offor, confirming the incident. He was reported as saying the killer police acted under the influence of alcohol.
A police officer at the MOPOL 22 said there had been enquiry by the police top hierarchy in the state on whether the late officer was officially on duty at the hotel.
“I don’t have much information on that but I am sure we would know in the next few days if he was officially drafted to the hotel or if there are more to be heard of the incident,” he said preferring to remain anonymous.