The buildings and environs of the Methodist Church Nigeria Plaza, Oshodi, opposite the demolished Owonifari market were at a standstill Friday when a young man was clobbered to death.
The victim, the late Cheta Ewi, 24, sold and repaired games and downloads prior to his death.
He was said to be the only son and had no family in Lagos.
The plaza, home to wholesale traders in clothing items, looked more like a ghost town than a beehive of activity which is the usual atmosphere of shops in the ever bustling Oshodi market.
When some traders attempted to open their shops to sell their wares, they were prevented from doing so by angry mob purportedly protesting the murder of their colleague in cold blood.
An eyewitness who preferred to remain anonymous alleged that the victim, Cheta by name, had gone to a party the night before, had a lot of alcohol to drink and a lot of Indian Hemp to smoke, and by 6am the next morning came to his shop and started harassing and physically abusing his colleagues.
In an attempt to control him, the eyewitness, a saleswoman, alleged that the traders chained and beat him to stupor.
She recounted: “Cheta is known to be a habitual Indian hemp smoker by everyone, but never has he reacted like this before. Early, this morning he started exhibiting lunatic tendencies and had bitten four people, including two women. He was coming towards me, and would have bitten me as well but for the man who stopped him. While trying to control him, he was chained and some people started beating him, until he collapsed. We later heard that he had died.”
However, another eyewitness, Mr. Okechukwu, a trader who has a shop in the plaza agreed that the late Cheta had never exhibited lunatic tendencies prior to that day, saying, “No, we cannot understand. The world does not believe in spiritual things, but it could be caused by what he ate or drank.”
Responding to the allegation that Cheta was a drug addict whose demented state could have been caused by a chemical interaction between Indian hemp and alcohol which could have led to a mental breakdown, Okechukwu responded, “No I have never seen him smoke.”
He recalled that when he got to his shop, at about 8.30 am, he met that his friend and brother, Cheta, had been beaten to death between six and seven that morning. “But when we got here this morning, we were told that when Cheta was biting people. Two members of the task force, known popularly as Alabi and Arinze, got some boys to tame him. They then went up and took a stool from the shop of Abada, one of our traders, and started hitting him on the head and all over his body. They chained him, and seated him in the sun after beating him, and released him when they saw that he was about to die,” Okechukwu said.
He said Cheta was later rushed by his colleagues to Longlife hospital where he was rejected. They then rushed him to the General hospital, where he gave up the ghost. They paid for the arrangement of his body which had been brutally battered in the cause of the ordeal.
“His head had also been broken, with scars all over his face. His close friends and customers brought his corpse to his plaza, and ordered everyone to close.”
The plaza has since closed.
According to Okechukwu, this is the usual practice when a person passes on. But, a visit to the place later in the day it was learnt that a riot had ensued due to some people’s refusal to close their shops for the day. The traders were, however, forced to shut their shops when the riot happened.