• It’s premeditated killing, says victim’s family
• No, it was an accidental discharge -Customs
By SAM OTTI
If only the dead could talk, Ahmed Baba Mohammed, an Assistant Superintendent (AS 11) with the Nigeria Customs Service would have explained what actually transpired between him and his team leader, Oseni Musa Tunde, who reportedly shot him dead on Saturday, February 16. Ahmed, fondly called ‘Biggy’, was shot in the head by his boss, a Deputy Superintendent, who led an eight-man patrol team of the Federal Operations Unit ‘A’ Ikeja, on a routine operation at Idiroko, Ogun State.
Although details of what transpired between the two officers were sketchy, the spokesman of the unit, Uche Ejesieme, in a hurried statement, described the unfortunate incident as an “accidental discharge”.
He said the officers were tugged in a scuffle with a suspect over contraband goods when the pistol discharged and shot the victim dead. The statement released by the unit reads: “In their attempt to apprehend the suspects alongside the goods, there was a stiff resistance by the suspects which degenerated into a struggle between the officers and the smugglers.
In the ensuing confusion, a service pistol in the possession of DSC Oseni Musa Tunde, the team leader, accidentally discharged and hit one of the officers in the team, an Assistant Superintendent of Customs.
The officer was immediately rushed to Igando General Hospital where the doctor on duty confirmed him dead.” Not satisfied with the above explanation, however, relatives of the deceased gave a contrary statement, describing the incident as a premeditated murder. Some members of the family told our reporter that only justice would soothe their grief and placate the spirit of their dead brother.
Ahmed’s sudden death, no doubt, left his family in tears, especially his wife, Kushim, and her 11-month-old son. To double the disaster, his uncle, Alhaji Saidu, slumped and died when he heard the sad news. Speaking on behalf of the traumatized family, a United States-based engineer, Vincent, said the late Ahmed was not a victim of accidental discharge as claimed by the Customs unit.
He said the deceased had at several occasions complained bitterly of the misconducts of some of his colleagues at the Federal Operations Unit, which had increased the suspicion that he was deliberately silenced in cold blood. “It was not an accidental shooting. It was a premeditated act. So far, I cannot give details because the Customs are still carrying out their investigations.
Now they have handed over to the police. The police are coming out with their investigation. Some people who have peeped into their statements said my nephew was telling his commanding officer that they had closed for the day, why couldn’t they leave for home. And he turned at him and threatened to shoot him for challenging him. But my nephew pleaded with him not to shoot him but he went ahead and pulled the trigger,” he said.
To worsen the fears of the bereaved family, our reporter gathered that few minutes before his death, Ahmed had sent a terse SMS to his elder sister, Shawa, which read, “Na wa o!” When his sister called back to know why he sent the message, his phone rang repeatedly but was never picked.
She was shocked to hear that he was shot few minutes later. On what could have motivated the shooting, Vincent said his nephew was a godly man that detested molestation and harassment of innocent people. He said he wore integrity as a breastplate to the discomfort of some of his colleagues, who saw him as a pin in their throat. Moreover, the officer that shot him was allegedly dreaded for being too fast on the trigger, he said.
Hear him: “He has been complaining of the new team. He is not comfortable with them. They tend to intimidate innocent civilians and he is a God-fearing person. He made sure he did his job with integrity.”
While relating his last moments with the deceased, Vincent said the deceased called him on Friday to inform him that he would be in Lagos for a prayer meeting. According to him, the deceased was in high spirits and excitedly told him that he was going for an all-night patrol and would be back the next day to receive him. But unknown to the excited Ahmed, death was only few hours away.
“When I got to Lagos, I dropped my bag in his house and proceeded to the prayer meeting. When I got back in the morning, I called him at 6.59am and he told me that they had closed and they were on their way back. I decided to go to his house and pick up my bag and check into a hotel. When I got to his house, his elder sister had gone out for morning jogging. I called him again at 7.17am asking for the key and he said they had closed for the day and were on their way back.
I told him to call me when he got back,” he said. According to Vincent, he was in his hotel with Ahmed’s elder sister, Shawa, when a frantic caller informed them that her brother was involved in an accident. The lady hurriedly hung up and refused to pick her calls when Shawa anxiously tried her line for details.
“I left Shawa in the house and rushed to the General Hospital. I saw him lying in cold blood with bullet wound in his left forehead. Blood was dripping out from the back of his head where the bullet burst out. My first reaction was ‘what happened?’
They said it was an accidental discharge. I asked them whether the shot was from a rifle and they said it was from a pistol. I told them right away that from the best of my knowledge, from what I have heard about pistol, coupled with my military background, a pistol cannot discharge accidentally except if somebody had cocked it, and from the range from which I saw the bullet wound, there was no doubt it was a close range shot.”
Vincent insisted that it was a close shot that killed his nephew, as the bullet pierced his forehead, burst out from his temple and went further to shatter the glass of the Customs patrol van, with registration number C5490HQ, used for the operation on that day. Meanwhile, the wife of the victim, Kushim, has been in tears since the tragic incident.
She told Daily Sun that her last moment with her husband was on Valentine day, when he called to reassure her of his love. He promised to call back on Monday but unfortunately, he was killed on Saturday, she said.
Amidst tears, she said: “The man that shot my husband will not go free. I want the government to investigate this case thoroughly.” The elder sister to the victim, who also lived with him in Lagos, Shawa, told our reporter that her brother died with his dream unfulfilled. She said the 28-year-old Ahmed graduated from Public Administration at Nasarawa State University in 2008 before enlisting in the Customs Service in 2011. Daily Sun gathered that Ahmed, the second son in a family of five, had declined the invitation from his uncle to come to the United States for a Masters programme. Rather, he chose to serve his fatherland. Sadly, his decision to become a patriot and a model of excellence in his chosen career has led him to his shallow grave.