The Osun State Police Command has said security men in the convoy of the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, were behind indiscriminate shooting that occurred at the Old Garage area of Osogbo on Monday.
During the incident, gunshots were heard, causing panic among the residents, as the convoy passed through the Old Garage to the Oke Fia area of the state capital.
The command’s spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, in a statement on Tuesday, said personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Correctional Service and Nigeria Immigration Service in the convoy of Aregbesola shot without provocation along the Old Garage and the MDS in the metropolis as the convoy passed through the area.
Opalola, who also said the shooting caused panic, noted that 13 bullet shells were recovered after the minister’s convoy had left the area.
The statement read in part, “Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola was moving in the convoy of personnel of the NSCDC, Correctional Service, Immigration, as well as some unidentified armed people suspected to be political thugs along the Orisumbare/MDS Road, Osogbo.
“Suddenly, some of the security escorts of the minister started shooting sporadically in the air without any provocation or attack, thereby causing members of the public to scamper to safety. Thirteen empty shells of G-3, assault and AK-47 rifles were recovered along the road after the minister’s departure. No casualty was, however, recovered.”
But the state command of the NSCDC said in another statement that security operatives repelled an attack by some hoodlums on the convoy of the ex-governor of the state.
A statement by the spokesperson for the NSCDC in the state, Olabisi Atanda, said, “Unknown hoodlums attacked the convoy of the former governor of Osun State and Minister, Federal Ministry of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, today (Monday) at about 6.40pm around the Old Garage area in Osogbo, the state capital.
“However, the security details of the minister were able to disperse the hoodlums and bring normalcy to the area.
“Commandant Emmanuel Ocheja said Osun State is a peaceful state and the command will continue to render excellent and all-inclusive security services in the state in line with the statutory mandates and functions of the corps. Professionalism and impartiality is the watchword of the NSCDC at all times.”
Meanwhile, some placard-carrying members of the National Association of Osun Students, on Tuesday, stormed the entrance to the state command headquarters of the NSCDC in protest over the alleged indiscriminate shooting by its men in Osogbo on Monday.
The protesters, led by the NAOSS President, Mr Moshood Yusuf, were, however, prevented from gaining entry into the headquarters by armed men at the entrance to the premises in the Oke Ayepe area of Osogbo.
Armed with placards with various inscriptions such as, ‘NSCDC stop violence in Osun’, ‘NSCDC no to shooting sporadically in public’, and ‘NSCDC stop shooting in Osun’, the protesters impeded the movement of vehicles into and out of the premises.
While battling to clear the entrance, some NSCDC operatives manhandled journalists and some people believed to be policemen, who were not in uniform, at the scene of the protest.
Addressing journalists, Yusuf, who later submitted a petition addressed to the NSCDC Commandant-General to the state command, said operatives involved in Monday’s shooting must be identified and punished.
He said, “We have noted the abuse of the NSCDC men and officers in recent political outings of the minister in the state, where several records of attacks and gun duels occurred and spearheaded by the NSCDC officers, but it reached its peak on Monday, February 14, 2022, when the entire state capital was thrown into panic by the hooded NSCDC officers, who were shooting indiscriminately at the popular Orisunmibare Market in Osogbo.
“The dangerous dimension is that most of those personnel had no identity cards and they covered their faces, which called to question if they are genuine NSCDC officers or clothed political thugs. The Osun State Police Command’s preliminary report confirmed several empty magazines of assorted rifles; this is condemnable and unacceptable to us as stakeholders in the Osun project and we cannot continue to folds our arms until the situation degenerates beyond this level, hence, we call for the intervention of the national headquarters of the NSCDC to safe our souls.
“We decided to escalate this matter to your office because we have it on good authority that most of the personnel are also drawn from neighbouring states and if a security apparatus with constitutional responsibility of protecting the people is now at the peak of political violence against the citizens, it calls for serious concern.
“We, however, demand the investigation of the NSCDC officers involved in Monday’s indiscriminate shooting in Osogbo and punishment in accordance with relevant law of the NSCDC for public disturbance and threat to public peace.”
Reacting to the allegations that his men were involved in the shooting, Ocheja called for calm, saying the youth should not allow politicians to use them to destabilise the peace of the state, adding that he would always work to ensure peace.
“I am a man of peace. Anything that will create a problem, I will not be part of it. When they started with the show of force, I was the one that said no, if you have to be civil related, you talk to the people,” he stated.