#EndSARS: Nigeria police kill 20-year-old student journalist

Mohammed Adamu, Inspector-General of Police

A student journalist has been confirmed dead after being allegedly held for days by officers of the Nigeria Police Force.

Pelumi Onifade until his death was a 200-level student of the Department of History, Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State and intern with GboahTV, an online television platform.

Onifade was covering the attempted vandalisation and budglary of a public property on 24th October in the Abule Egba area of Lagos when officials of the Nigeria police attached to the Lagos State Task Force arrested him along with others.

His body was found over a week after at the mortuary of the state’s general hospital, Ikorodu.

Police officers, who were drafted to the scene, engaged the hoodlums with firearms, injuring a number of them, and arresting some.

Mr Onifade’s colleague, whose identity was not given for security reasons, told the television station management that he saw his colleague, who was already shot, as he was dragged into the police van alongside others.

“He was shot despite the professional jacket he wore. His colleague even approached the policemen that Onifade was his colleague and showed them his own identity card, a camera and other gadgets. But rather than listening to him, they threatened to shoot him and got him arrested too,” a person familiar with the incident said.

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Following the shooting of protesters against police brutality on Tuesday, October 20, at the Lekki tollgate, widespread violence and looting had broken out across the state with hoodlums taking advantage of the situation to loot both private and public properties.

According to another source, as soon as the television management received the information it sprang into action, and combed everywhere in search of the young man who was described as a conscientious firstborn and breadwinner of a family of five.

Mr Onifade’s father was said to have been involved in an accident which partially crippled him and made it difficult for him to work.

“His mum helps caterers to cook at parties. So things are a bit difficult for the family but the young Onifade had been up and doing. His two younger sisters are still in secondary school,” the source explained.

The source added that the search team visited hospitals, police stations, prisons and particularly, the taskforce command located in the Bolade area of Oshodi.

The source said; “A thorough search was conducted from police stations to prisons and all over Lagos State for four days (Saturday, October 24 to Tuesday, 27), after which a ‘Missing Person’ graphic was shared across all social media platforms to aid his search. That same evening of Tuesday October 27, an officer of the task force called, saying he saw the post, and agreed to meet us on Wednesday, October 28, at the state headquarters, Ikeja.

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“At the meeting, the officer that led the squad said they arrested five people at abattoir in Agege, but that one person died. He said they already took the corpse to a mortuary in Ikorodu. They scheduled a meeting for Thursday to confirm if his name was on the list of those arrested, and that if not, we would follow them to the mortuary at Ikorodu to confirm. But due to the public holiday on Thursday the appointment was rescheduled for Friday. On Friday morning we got to Ikorodu, and behold, it was Pelumi Onifade’s corpse that we saw.”

Demand for justice

Meanwhile, a statement signed by a student leader named Abdul-Azeez Soneye on behalf of the deceased’s family and friends has called on appropriate authorities to ensure that justice is served.

They said the young man was the hope of the family, and that cutting his life short could be too devastating for an unhealthy father, and a struggling family.

A copy of the statement seen by EduCeleb.com read in part; “We are not against the police, police reform is a fight in this country. At age 20, Pelumi Onifade was the breadwinner of his family and a responsible member of the boys’ brigade in his church.

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“We, therefore, demand that whoever pulled the trigger must be identified and prosecuted accordingly. And in the absence of the culprit, the person who led the squad must be held responsible and prosecuted. The family of Onifade Pelumi should be compensated, and a public apology from the Lagos State government and the police must be tendered.”

The police has refused to comment on the incident after several enquiries.

The body of the deceased is also yet to be released to his family as at the time of filing this report.

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