One of three journalists, who were shot on Tuesday at the flag-off campaign of Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Temitope Ogunbanke, a News Telegraph correspondent, has recounted his experience.
Ogunbanke said he was hit on his neck and stomach by the bullet. According to him, the bullet touched his stomach and fled past him, saying he felt the touch of the bullet on his stomach while it pierced his face.
He said: "I thank God I am alive. When I felt the bullet in my stomach, I thought I was dead. It was when I opened my eyes and touched the stomach and saw no blood that I knew I was still alive, but I was scratched by the bullet on my face."
The journalists hit by bullets were Ogunbanke, Emmanuel Oladesu, the Group Political Editor of The Nation newspaper, and Ibile Television cameraman, Abiodun Yusuf.
The crisis broke out at the rally when rival groups of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state went for each other's jugular, leading to the death of one Issmaila Azeez Ibrahim, popularly known as Legacy and the stabbing of the NURTW Lagos Treasurer, Musiliu Akinsanya, also known as 'MC Oluomo'.
It was gathered that the rival groups have been on each other's neck since Oluomo declared his ambition to become the state chairman of the union, while others said a faction of the union were still bitter that the governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was not allowed to run for a second term in office.
The police command in Lagos has declared one Mustapha Adekunle, aka Seigo, a chieftain of the union, wanted in connection with the incident, while two suspects have been arrested.
Meanwhile, the Association of Practitioners of Community Media in Nigeria (APCOM), the registered umbrella body for community media practitioners in Nigeria, has denounced the outbreak of violence at the rally.
In a statement signed by APCOM president, Dayo Akintobi, the body condemned the unwarranted assault on their colleagues while in the line of duty.
"The Association demands that the perpetrators of the dastardly shootings be apprehended and made to face the full wrath of the law. Of the eight persons reported to have been transported to hospital from the scene for treatment, three were journalists. This speaks to the dangerous nature of journalists' jobs and makes a case for why extra security measures must always be in place to protect them during potentially volatile assignments like coverage of political rallies."
The body advised that to keep violence in check and inhibit a repeat occurrence of the mayhem, political parties should do more to keep their supporters docile, even rival factions and contending caucuses. "Security agencies also need to step up, first and foremost taking steps to keep weapons out of rally venues and keeping a close watch on warring factions to quell minor skirmishes before they escalate into full-blown confrontations."
Also in its reaction, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) yesterday announced the donation of N500,000 to the journalists injured during fracas. A statement issued in Abuja by the coalition's first national spokesperson, Ikenga Ugochinyere, said the donation was meant for the medical treatment of the injured journalists.
He claimed that the current administration was more focused on how to rig the forthcoming elections, instead of working towards solving the security issues currently disturbing the nation.
More details yesterday emerged on how Oluomo was stabbed with a poisoned knife. According to an APC chieftain who pleaded for anonymity, Oluomo was stabbed twice with a poisonous knife called Makenje, which means don't touch blood. "All the VIPs were spirited out of the venue by security personnel. It was like a war zone with sophisticated guns and machetes on display. We heard some people are still angry that Ambode was schemed out of the 2019 governorship race and disgraced.
"It was well planned by top politicians. The plot was to disrupt the rally and turn attention away from the candidate Sanwo-Olu. And you have to say they succeeded to some extent", said the source who added that MC Oluomo wasn't supposed to be rushed to the hospital after being stabbed, because he supposedly wears a spiritual armour that shields him from gun, knife and other dangerous weapons.
"The knife used to stab him was a poisoned one. He was expected to be inured from the venom of a poisoned knife. Because Oluomo was 'unkillable', the only way they could break through his skin was to poison the knife and as I speak with you now, native and medical doctors are battling to keep him alive by extracting the venom from his body."