Some residents of Ibadan in the Akinyele Local Government Area of Oyo State are constantly living in fear over the ‘shelling’ of their areas by soldiers from the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army at Odogbo area.
Our correspondent gathered that soldiers from army units under the command of 2 Division regularly come to the barracks for shooting exercises.
Some residents of the areas told journalists on Thursday that the situation usually put their lives in danger, adding that some landlords abandoned their houses as a result of the shooting. The affected areas included Oluseyi, Arulogun, Omilabu Junction and some estates.
Taking our correspondent round many houses which were hit by the latest shooting exercise, the residents said some landlords abandoned their houses because of the fear of being hit by flying bullets from the shooting range.
Our correspondent observed some bullets still lodged in walls, burglar proofs while the windscreens of some vehicles were damaged including roofs and windows.
One of the community leaders, Asimiyu Abdulrauf, told Saturday PUNCH that the shooting did not start recently, noting that they had protested, complained to army authorities and written to government agencies but the shootings and the damage did not stop.
He said, “We daily live in fear because we don’t know who would be affected. Windows are broken by bullets, roofs are perforated and vehicles are damaged. This is what we have been living with. The area was not acquired by the government or the Nigerian Army. If it was, we would not have built our houses there. We have lost so much to this. But the army authorities are not concerned because we don’t have influential people who can tackle them.
“We are appealing to the army authorities again to stop shootings into our areas because our lives are in danger. Some have died as a result of shock due to the shootings. Is the government going to wait till they kill all of us before they will stop them? There is no child who doesn’t know what a bullet is in our community now. There are bullets on the ground as you can see. They are not difficult to see in this area even without searching for them.’’
Another community leader, Jimoh Adewuyi, also showed the damage done to houses in the area.
He said, “Churches and mosques in this area are not spared of the bullets. There are houses whose roofs have been perforated by bullets from Odogbo Barracks. Who is the person to pay for the replacement of the roofs?
“After the last protest, they arrested some and took them to their barracks and asked them to cut grass until they could no longer stand up. They believe they can do anything and get away with it because we are civilians. Are we not the ones they claim to be protecting? Government must not wait till they kill us before reacting to the development.”
A retiree, Mrs Kemi Oyewole, narrated how her husband missed death by a whisker when bullets penetrated their room and landed on a chair he just stood up from.
She said, “I picked bullets inside my room. My husband sat in a chair and just returned from the hospital then. Other bullets landed in different places and I picked three. This is what we live with here. We have complained many times to the army authorities but it seems the soldiers are above the law. So, we are just praying to God to spare our lives.”
Also, another resident, Mr Peter Okonma, said the roof of his house and the Plaster of Paris were always damaged by bullets fired by the soldiers during shooting exercises.
Another dweller in the area, Lateef Adekunle, said he and other residents live in fear of the bullets.
Adekunle, who showed the bullets lodged in an iron on his perimeter fence, said that some elderly persons were having issues with their health because of the constant stray bullets flying into their houses.
He also pleaded with the government to build a tall concrete barricade to prevent bullets from escaping from the shooting range anytime there was an exercise.
Another community leader, Kazeem Ijeru, stated that he was tired of talking about the situation because he had gone through a lot as a result of the issue, adding that it appeared there was no end in sight to the troubles of the residents in the area.
Calls made to the mobile of the officer in charge of Information at 2 Division Nigerian Army, Lt. Col Charles Ekeocha, rang out. He had also yet to respond to text messages sent as of the time this report was filed.
When contacted, Chairman, Akinyele Local Government Area, Taoreed Adedigba, said the issue had been on before he assumed office, stating that the army was contacted and the issue addressed.
He said, “I am not aware of the recent development. But I will ask our people to take photographs of the damage done to their buildings and vehicles and to also pick the bullets and bring them to the council. We will take them to the barracks again. They will have to find a way to stop the bullets from flying to the areas. We will work together to stop it.’’