Residents, numbering about 450,000, of 2 communities around 2 Division, Nigeria Army, Adekunle Fajuyi Cantonment, Odogbo, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, have started fleeing their residences as a stray bullet hit a four-year-old pupil of a private school in Ajobo Omilabu area of the ancient city, yesterday.
The boy, identified as Abdul Lateef Adeyemi, was reportedly hit within his school premises by stray bullet fired by soldiers from a shooting range.
Speaking with journalists, the Chairman of Ajobo Omilabu Landlords’ Association, Alfa Kazeem Ijeru, yesterday disclosed that it was the bullet from the ongoing shooting at the range at Odogbo Barracks that hit the boy, who he said is currently in a serious condition at a military hospital.
Alfa Adeyemi said: “About seven years ago, we bought plots of land. It was when we got to the area that we started hearing gunshots. We were scared and went to the land owners to complain, but we were told that there was no cause for alarm and that it was from the barracks.”
According to Adeyemi, “they added then that the bullets being used were rubber bullets that could not kill. But later, we discovered that this was not so. The first set of people who went to the barracks to complain were beaten up.
“Yet we still went there to complain. The Army told us that they will not use the place as shooting range again and that they will move to Alamala in Abeokuta. The shooting stopped for some time then.”
He said when they started hearing gunshots again, they made efforts to see the General Officer Commanding, GOC, of the 2 Division.
According to him, “this morning (yesterday), we were getting ready around 11a.m. to make the appointment with the GOC by 12 noon, when someone told me that a pupil of Oluyemisi Nursery and Primary School has been hit in the head and was bleeding profusely.
“We rushed there to see the GOC, but the soldiers at the gate did not allow any of us to enter except the mother of the affected child. The bullets we picked to show them as proof were collected from us.
“Already, many of us will not sleep in that community tonight because the shooting still continues at the range. Do you know that people could not rescue the boy immediately because as they wanted to pick him, there were bullets still flying around.”
Reacting to the incident, the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, 2 Division Nigerian Army, Col. Ezindu Idima, said the GOC had ordered investigation into the issue to ascertain where the bullet that hit the boy came from.
He said: “The nearest community to the barracks is about 2.3 kilometres and the effective range of AK-47, which we used for the range classification is about 300 metres.
“We went to the communities again this morning to see what happened. We are investigating to know what actually happened”.