Damietta Green, a 25-year-old lady, was on Tuesday, hit by stray bullet allegedly fired by a soldier in Rivers State.
The incident occurred in the Harbour Road area of Port Harcourt on Tuesday evening.
Green is currently lying critically wounded in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, according to the Nation.
An eyewitness said the incident occurred close to the popular Rachael Hotel and opposite a branch of First Bank.
“Soldiers who are posted on guard duty at the Nigeria Correctional Centre (Prison) facility, usually mount roadblocks around the area to extort money from transporters of illegal refined petroleum product (kpofire),” Nation quoted one source to have said
Various sources said the madness was triggered when a Toyota Camry car suspected to be conveying the illicit product refused to stop.
“The soldier pursued the car and jumped on the bonnet. When the car refused to stop, he started shooting indiscriminately.
“There were many vehicles trapped in the gridlock caused by the checkpoint and the victim was in one of those vehicles, a Lexus 330 salon car,” a source said.
It was learnt that the errant driver of the Toyota Camry escaped the scene unhurt, but the vehicle was towed to the nearby Central Police Station.
Other passengers in the car told The Nation on Thursday night that they were going home from a sales meeting when the driver of the Lexus car (registration number Abuja ABC 26 GX) offered them a ride.
“We know him (driver) in Town (a suburb of the city) and he offered us a ride home. We were at the checkpoint when the shooting started,” one of the victim’s friends said.
Emmanuel Oluwaseun, who offered the lady the ride, confirmed the story. He said the bullets went through the back passenger door and lodged into the back of the victim, who sat at the back of the car with another passenger.
“In the confusion, she was shouting that she had been shot, but we couldn’t do anything because the soldier was just shooting. When the chaos eased, we rushed her to the Central Police Station.
“The medical personnel said the matter was beyond them. They referred us to BMH (Braithwaite Memorial Hospital) where she was given some treatment and referred to UPTH,” he said.
Sources at the Central Police Station told our reporter that the trigger-happy soldier, identified as Sgt Yinka Ayileka, reported at the station but was allowed to leave after identification.
Police Public Relations Officer, Rivers Command, Grace Eringe-Koko, who was contacted on Friday morning, referred our request for information to the Army Public Relations Officer attached to the 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt Barrack, Major Ike Iweha.
Major Iweha, when contacted, expressed shock at the report, revealing that he was as only aware of an incident in which a middle aged man was wounded and treated.
He promised that the matter would be investigated, adding that on the interim a team would be sent to UPTH to ensure that the victim gets proper treatment immediately
Meanwhile, the aged mother, siblings and friends lamented that she had been abandoned in the hospital.
The victim, who was still at the crowded Emergency Unit of UPTH, told Saturday Nation: “I was scheduled for surgery on Thursday (over 48 hours after she was shot), but till now (Thursday evening) nothing has happened. They asked me not to eat anything because of the surgery, but for how long will I remain like this?” she lamented in a frail voice.
It was gathered that some pellets were removed at BMH on Tuesday, but most remain embedded in her back and around her spine area.
Sympathizers and friends were also unhappy about the alleged plot by security operatives to sweep the incident under the carpet by blaming the incident on stray bullets during cult gangs’ clash in the area.
“It is very painful that the media could be used to spread a blatant lie to hide the evil done by the soldier who was on illegal duty at the post. Nigerians should help us get justice and to ensure that our sister does not die.”