Lagos residents lynch mentally-ill, allege invasion of property

• The victim & Lagos CP, Abiodun Alabi
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An undergraduate, Chigozie Jideofor, has succumbed to the injuries he sustained after a mob attacked him for jumping into the compounds of two residential buildings around Onireke, opposite the Ojo Military Cantonment, Ojo, Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the victim, who was suffering from mental illness, was with a friend at their residence on Onugah Street, Onireke.

The duo, who spent the night together, were said to be sleeping when Chigozie reportedly suffered a relapse in the early hours of Thursday.

His friend was said to be asleep when he woke up, left the building and started wandering around the neighbourhood.

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Shortly after he left the house, the friend, upon sensing his absence in the room around 2am, searched other parts of the building before embarking on a lone search for the whereabouts of the 23-year-old.

During the search, a source, who spoke to our correspondent on Monday, said the friend spotted him from afar jumping into a compound.

The source noted that the friend, who suspected that Chigozie was having his mental crisis, rushed to rescue him.

“But when he got there, he realised that the residents of the building had apprehended his friend. The residents quickly raised the alarm and started questioning Chigozie. Immediately, his friend told them that he was suffering from a mental condition but the angry residents tagged him as an accomplice.

“They were still arguing when Chigozie suddenly broke off, jumped another fence and landed into another compound.

“The residents of the second building, who were already awake because of the alarm raised by the people in the first building, also apprehended him.

“At the first building, we gathered that the residents started attacking Chigozie’s friend but he was able to escape to alert his friend’s family members.

“The residents started attacking Chigozie and used machetes and cutlasses to cut him all over his body. They injured him badly before handing him over to the neighbourhood security guards.”

The source said when his friend informed his family members, they rushed to the scene around 6am and met Chigozie in a pool of blood, adding that they rushed him to a nearby hospital.

The source stated that Chigozie died on Sunday, July 31, 2022, while receiving treatment at the hospital.

He said, “Instead of handing him over to the police, they attacked him. One of the suspects actually tendered one of the cutlasses as evidence at Onireke Police Station. We had to rush Chigozie to a nearby hospital where he died during treatment.

“I am aware that he was suffering from a psychological condition because I had seen him behave in a strange way before. Whenever his illness started, he would just be acting funny but on a good day, he acted well.

“He was even in his final year at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University. He was at home because of the strike. We gathered that about four suspects have been arrested and another suspect who has a shop in Trade Fair is still on the run. We want justice for Chigozie.”

PUNCH Metro obtained pictures showing bloodstains all over Chigozie as he sat helplessly on the floor after the attack.

Deep cuts were visible in his legs, head, hands and other parts of his body.

A video clip showing him lying on a hospital bed during treatment was also seen by our correspondent.

Contacted, Chigozie’s elder brother, Bosco, said he needed to seek the permission of other family members before speaking on the matter.

He promised to get back to our correspondent but had yet to do so as of the time this report was filed.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said Chigozie left home without his caregivers, adding that residents in the building he jumped into mistook him for a thief.

He said, “He (Chigozie) was mentally challenged and they were taking care of him in his house. But on that particular day, his family members were not around and usually when they were not around, they locked him in his room.

“But somehow, he was able to get out of the room, walked around and scaled the fence into somebody’s premises. So, people took him for a robber, attacked him and beat him to a pulp.

“The police got there when they got wind of what was happening and took him to the hospital. He died on Sunday. The landlord, security man and two other people have been arrested.”

Jungle justice is a common practice in the country.

About two months ago, three suspects, Abubakar Musa, Sarauta Monsur, and Surajo Yusuf, one of whom had patronised a sex worker, Hannah Saliu, were charged to court for allegedly beating the woman to death and setting her corpse ablaze for keeping the Holy Quran in her room in the Alaba Rago area of the state.

Also, a sound engineer, David Sunday, was beaten and set ablaze by motorcyclists during an argument over N100 in the Admiralty area of Lekki, Lagos State.

A security expert, Dickson Osajie, said the law gave property owners the power to arrest, but did not give them the right to attack an unarmed intruder.

He said, “If the intruder is armed, the constitution is clear on the management of armed individuals and the need to exercise self-defence. But in this situation, I believe the people were so quick to respond without involving the police because the criminal proceeding act is very clear that such a kind of person, when apprehended, must be handed over to the police.

“I think the occupants of the building went overboard and they could be charged with  jungle justice. The friend, having explained to the residents where the incident transpired, should have made them invite the police to respond to the incident.”

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