Mariam Shobukola, a Senior Secondary School Two pupil of Delight International School, Aboru, Lagos State, was hit by a stray bullet fired by the police during a clash they had with okada riders (commercial motorcyclists) and keke Marwa operators (commercial tricycle riders) in their area. Her father, Mukaila Shobukola, shares the anguish and frustration of his family with SIMON UTEBOR
Mariam, who was hit by a police stray bullet, is said to be your daughter. What happened?
Mariam is 14-year- old and she is my last child. She is a pupil of Delight International School, Aboru, Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos. I am from Abeokuta in Ogun State, so is my wife, Olabisi. I’m an artist and a painter. I am 55-year-old.
Where were you on that day your daughter was hit by a stray bullet during a clash between the okada and keke riders’ protesters and the police?
I went to my workshop at Iyana Ipaja, where I do painting/spraying. Later on that day, my wife, Olabisi, called me that I should rush to our area that our daughter was shot. I asked her what really happened. She said she was hit by police stray bullet during the protest between okada/tricycle operators and the police over the manner the police were enforcing the ban of okadas and kekes in Aboru/Iyana Ipaja areas of the state.
I was told that my daughter was around their school (Delight International School Aboru) area when she suddenly fell down. It was then people around noticed that she had been hit by a bullet.
What thought ran through your mind when they broke the news of her shooting to you?
I felt disturbed; I lost my control and I almost ran mad. Without wasting time, I rushed to the scene of incident. Behold, there was no vehicle as all commercial drivers in the area disappeared due to the clash. I had to trek the long distance. By that time, I heard that she had been rushed to a general hospital at Ile Epo. I had to trek there. Before then, I learnt that she was first taken to a private hospital where the doctors in attendance rejected her, saying they could not handle her case. When I got to Ile Ekpo, I met them. I was distraught. I spent some money. Still, they referred us to Ayinke General Hospital, Ikeja.
How did you feel when you first saw your daughter writhing in pains?
I was not alright when I saw her. I was mad and if I had seen the police that shattered my daughter’s buttocks and waist that moment, I would have confronted them without minding the consequences. Right now, the incident has shattered me. I need the intervention of the government and Nigerians because as I speak, I am lost in thought.
Talking about assistance, how much has the family spent so far?
Out of nothing, we have spent over N140,000. We are still spending. Doctors succeeded in removing the pellets from her body and we are being billed for surgery. Still, the treatment is ongoing and we are still spending. They are administering one test or another on her. We are buying different types of medicine and other things.
When were the bullets removed from her body?
They removed the bullets between 12am and 1am on Thursday. It is only God that saved my daughter. I think her condition is improving. She started talking on Thursday. Before then, she was not talking at all. If we spoke to her, she would not respond but after the surgery, she could talk. She is happy she can talk now, though she is feeling excruciating pains in her waist.
When the incident happened, how did your wife and her siblings feel?
I was not there when the incident happened but witnesses told me she was not herself as she was pacing up and down. She (Olabisi) was the first to hear about the incident and she was the one who called to inform me about it. By the time I got to my daughter’s school, I was told that they had taken her to the hospital. They took her from a private hospital to Ile Epo General Hospital before taking her to Ayinke General Hospital where she is currently been treated. The stress was too much that day for all of us, including her siblings – it was a day we can’t forget in a hurry.
In what ways did the police help on that day knowing full well it was the shot from their gun that hit Mariam?
That day, the police were not ready to do anything – they were nonchalant. They have not done anything to assist us since that day. They were only looking at us. On Wednesday, three policemen came. They said they were from the station and that they came to get statement from us about the incident.
On Thursday, they sent a policewoman. She did not meet me at the hospital because I went to the laboratory. She met my wife and children there. She said her Divisional Police Officer gave her N20,000 to give to us over the incident. My wife told her she could not collect the money and that she was not the only one that gave birth to the child and she should wait for the father (me) to come. My wife called me to inform me about the development. When I met the policewoman, she said the DPO said she should give us N20,000. I rejected it because there was nothing to do with N20,000 and that my immediate concern was how to rescue my daughter from the jaws of death.
Apart from the day the policewoman sent by her DPO to give the family the N20,000, have the police been coming to see your family at the hospital?
No, it was only that day they brought N20,000 that the policewoman came. We are hereby calling on the government to intervene in the matter and assist us. We are also calling on public-spirited individuals to help us. We have incurred a lot of debts since the incident. As I speak with you, we do not have money again. We have spent much since the incident.
Could you specify how much you have spent so far since the incident?
I have spent over N130,000. Now the surgeons have given us another bill. Apart from what we have spent before, we are asked to pay about N140,000 and her medicine has not stopped. We keep buying drugs and spending on different issues to treat the wound. I need the assistance of Nigerians in this precarious matter we are faced. I feel so bad with the situation because I am neither an okada man nor a keke operator – I have my own business I am doing.
What is the next action?
Right now, I am confused. Anywhere people can help us, let them help us. I am not able to think straight now. I need help so that I know what I can do next about this matter. They have done much damage to our family. I want public spirited Nigerians to rally round me and to offer me advice on what I can do regarding this situation. I am confused.
Though you are not a doctor, from the way you are seeing your daughter, do you think she can make it?
Yes, I hope so by the grace of God. She has survived the operation and I am optimistic the wounds will heal fast and she will recover completely from the trauma and other complications associated with the shooting. Though she is complaining too much about pains, she is not able to stand up as she is supposed to, and since that day of incident, she has not eaten anything. She has been on drips and treatments. I must commend the doctors at Ayinke General Hospital – they are trying – doing their best to make sure she does not die.
Is it true that she has not been able to talk since the incident?
Yes, since she was brought into the hospital, she has not. She was just looking morosely, writhing in pains. But now, I thank God she can talk. She is able to recognise her environment.
Did you or your wife have any sign that such incident would happen?
I did not get any sign. I left home early in the morning for my business. I saw her (Mariam) in the morning before going to work. She greeted me, wished me well and I told her we would see in the evening. I was surprised that not too long after I left home, I heard the disturbing news that she was shot. In fact, I did not have any sign. If I had, I would have asked her to stay at home and not to go anywhere.
How have you been defraying the bills – have people been supporting you or the bills are free being a government hospital?
They are collecting money from us. I use my money to buy all the drugs they are using for her. The hospital doesn’t give us free drugs – they asked us to use our money to buy them.