Lagos APC violence: How Hamburger was shot twice
•HIS LAST MOMENTS •POLICE YET TO MAKE ARRESTS
Palpable grief, tension and fears have continued to grip residents of Sogunle and Ladipo areas of Oshodi in Lagos State following last Monday’s gruesome murder of the Branch C chairman of the Motorcycle Owners Association of Lagos State, an affiliate of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Rasak Bello, popularly known as Hamburger. Bello was killed during the primary to select the councillorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sogunle ward.
Residents have since Monday bemoaned the cruel fate that befell the community following the death of Hamburger, whom they described as “a great philanthropist.” He was said to have single-handedly lit up more than 10 streets with streetlight, which according to them, he was powering daily. The deceased transport union boss also provided free potable water for some streets in the community.
When Saturday Tribune visited the Saka Street, Sogunle home of Hamburger on Thursday, commercial activities were returning around the area but tension was still high as mobile and conventional policemen continued to patrol the street and neighbouring streets .
Contrary to the reports that Hamburger was killed at the venue of the APC primary, one of the aides of the deceased who was with him till he breathed his last, Saheed Sulaimon, who has been assisting the police at Area F Police Command with information on the murder, said Hamburger was killed while trying to save another person who was shot.
Every mourner and family member at the deceased’s house pointed to Sulaimon as the prime witness to the tragedy. When Saturday Tribune sought to know how the incident happened, Sulaimon said he was on his way to brief the leadership of the NURTW in the state on how Hamburger lost the battle of life. Our correspondent had to follow him to the union’s secretariat and waited for more than two hours before he finally granted him an audience .
“My name is Saheed Sulaimon. I have known Hamburger for more than 25 years. I am not directly working under his okada union but I used to buy cow and other things for him whenever he had social engagements or when he wanted to give such as gifts. He was my boss. He was also my benefactor. We were very close. He even promised me a place whenever there is any opening in any of the units under him. He gave me money every Friday.
“On Monday, he called me and said that the APC would be having the primary for councillorship aspirants at the Sogunle town hall at Ago Owu Street, at the back of the police station. He told me to come for the event. I got there at 8 o’clock in the morning. I got there before him and when I told him that I was there and that they had not started, he told me to wait. By 9 o’clock, people started coming and I called him again and he asked me if councillor had come. I told him no and he still told me to wait that the INEC staff who would conduct the primary were coming.
“At about 11.30 in the morning, the INEC staff came and I called to inform him. Alhaji Rasak told me that he was coming. He came around 12 o’clock in the afternoon. When he got there, he greeted everybody and he went to where a police van was parked and sat on the back. He was fiddling with his phone. The patrol van was owned by Sogunle police station.
“About 15 minutes later, Mr Samson Agbetoye, popularly known as Golden Son, came with about 20 people. They stayed at the Opo Osun junction, which is not far from the venue of the primary. They were at Opo Osun junction when some boys came to inform Alhaji Rasak that Samson had come but he told them to remain calm. At that point, he walked up to where Samson and his people were and asked him, ‘Samson, didn’t you see me?’ Samson then came to him and prostrated before him and even hugged Alhaji Rasak but when he was leaving, he said he had only one boss and that was Oluomo.
“One of the women on queue reported to Rasak that Samson threatened them but he assured them that there was no problem and told her to return to the queue. Some minutes later, the policemen wanted to leave the venue and Alhaji Rasak stood up from the vehicle and went to the front of Alhaji Adeogun’s house on Ayinke Street, which is also not far from the venue. Samson and his boys remained at the venue of the primary. Some of them wore dark glasses.
“The people on queue remained under the sun. That was because the earlier primary election was disrupted by Samson and his gang. There were three contestants. They were yet to conclude the first exercise when it was disrupted. Alhaji Rasak kept assuring the voters that there was no problem. And not quite some minutes after that, we saw a bus approaching. The people in the bus shot into the air on three occasions. People rushed to call Alhaji Rasak where he was sitting at Ayinke street. I saw and recognized those who came with the bus.
“By the time that Alhaji Rasak returned from Ayinke Street, they (those who came to shoot) had gone to Ago Owu where their leader formerly had a sports betting shop. The business is not operational again but he is still maintaining the shop. Alhaji Rasak went to the policemen and asked them why they would allow some people to scare voters at the town hall with guns but the policemen replied him that ‘ but you are all APC. You all know one another. There is no PDP among you.’ Alhaji Rasak left and went back to where he was sitting on Ayinke Street but before leaving the venue of the primary, he still assured the voters that there was no problem.
“After some time, Alhaji Rasak came back and told the voters to go home. He beckoned on me to go with him. I, Owoh, Askari and Ibadan followed him and he repeatedly warned us not to foment trouble On the way along Ago Owu, he was conversing with someone on telephone. We did not know the person that he was speaking with on the phone. When we got to where Samson and his boys were sitting, Alhaji Rasak called and excused Samson who came closer to him. Alhaji Rasak asked why he should be disturbing the peace of the community with shooting. The two of them were talking when Samson raised his shirt and displayed a gun which was under the shirt to Alhaji Rasak. At that point, Alhaji Rasak kept warning us not to foment trouble. He turned to return to where he was sitting at Ayinke. When he was going to where Samson and his people were sitting, I told him not to go but he insisted that for peace to reign, he would go and talk to him.
“As we stepped into Simbi Street, we heard a gunshot. Alhaji Rasak quickly went back. A guy who was later identified as Ijoba Small was discovered shot. We saw the boy hailing Alhaji Rasak when we were leaving. That was why he came back to rescue that boy.
“As he (Hamburger) bent down to rescue the boy, he was shot. And when he stood up again and attempted to walk towards Simbi, he was shot again, this time, on the back. By that time he was very weak and blood was gushing out of his nose. He wanted to fall down but I allowed him to rest on me. Those people threw bottles and other things at us. I was very lucky I was not injured. I told him to let us go to the hospital. We were walking through Simbi Street. He became very weak and was about to fall down. I shouted help! help! and Najeem, Askari and others came. We stopped a commercial bus and we headed straight to his hospital. I know his hospital very well in Ladipo. He was breathing very heavily and loudly in the bus.
“When we got to the hospital, the nurse and the doctor quickly attended to him. They even brought an oxygen to be used on him. When the owner of the hospital came down, he examined him and beat him repeatedly on the chest. Suddenly, he (the doctor) shouted ‘who did this to him?’ I asked him what happened and he told me, ‘Baba Oja, take heart, Hamburger is dead.’ I instantly picked my phone and called his elder brother, Fatai Bello, and broke the news to him. He was at home then. By the time he came to the hospital, some policemen had also come from Area F and his corpse was taken to the morgue.”
On if there was any rift between Samson and Hamburger before the Monday incident, Sulaimon said, “yes, there was a time they were not in good terms but the community leader settled it for them. The rift then was on superiority and Alhaji Rasak had even forgotten about that.”
Baba Oja, as Sulaimon is fondly called, also told Saturday Tribune that Hamburger had earlier been told that there were attempts on his life. He said “we heard that there were attempts to kill him during the last Sogunle Day celebration but it was not possible. I believe they were targeting him.”
Samson (Golden Son) could not be reached for his reaction as he was said to have gone into hiding as a result of the violence that followed the killing of Hamburger.
Another resident of the area who identified himself simply as Akeem said, “He (Hamburger) was fasting on that day. If he had any intention of fomenting trouble, he would have gone to the venue of the election well armed. He went there with just two people. One of them was his neighbour. Only three of them left his house. He was even telling some boys who wanted to follow him to stay back saying he was not a politician.”
As of Thursday evening, the police in the state were yet to make any arrest in connection with the Monday incident while efforts were in top gear to transfer the case to the homicide section of the State Criminal Investigations Department, Panti, Yaba, for further investigations.