Nigeria: Christmas Day killing of lawyer by police officer sparks outrage

By Ben Ezeamalu, in Lagos
Posted on Tuesday, 27 December 2022 18:01

Youths of ENDSARS protesters display their placards in a crowd in support of the ongoing protest against the harassment, killings and brutality of The Nigerian Police Force Unit called Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at Alawusa bus stop, along Lagos Ibadan-Expressway in Ikeja, on October 13, 2020. (Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

A police officer in Lagos allegedly shot and killed a woman on Christmas day, reigniting concerns over police brutality in Nigeria's commercial capital.

The deceased was identified as Bolanle Raheem, a lawyer.

Witnesses said the police officer shot at a vehicle carrying the lawyer and her family as they were returning from church.

Police said in a statement that the officer, attached to the police station in Ajah, and two others have been taken into custody.

 

It was the second time in a month a police officer from the Ajah Division fatally shoots an unarmed civilian.

“The Lagos State Police Command condoles with the family, friends and colleagues of Barrister Bolanle Raheem,” Benjamin Hundeyin, the police spokesperson in Lagos, said in a statement on Monday.

“The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, CP Abiodun Alabi, has been in touch with the family and the Nigerian Bar Association since yesterday and has given firm assurances that justice will definitely prevail.”

Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, has ordered “speedy investigation and prosecution” of the officers responsible for the incident, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the Force Public Relations Officer, said in a statement.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos said in a statement that “nothing will be spared under the Laws of Lagos State until justice is served speedily and adequately.”

‘Cold blooded murder’

On 6 December, a police officer fatally shot a man in the Ajah area of Lagos. Police authorities said they are investigating the matter and yet to make their findings public.

The latest incident sparked outrage across the state, as residents raised concerns over continued police brutality despite the #EndSARS protests two years ago and citizens’ push for reforms in the force.

The incident also came amidst reports of discontent within the police over the government’s failure to pay their six months salary arrears.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella body of lawyers in Nigeria, described the shooting as a “cold blooded murder.”

The organisation named the suspected shooter as Drambi Vandi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police who has been in the police service for 33 years.

“While the NBA acknowledges the sympathy and regret of the police authorities over this incident, the NBA President has unequivocally demanded that the Nigerian Police officially disclose and immediately release to Nigerians the fuller details of the errant officer and other officers responsible for this heinous act,” the body said in a statement on Monday.

“Members of the NBA and Nigerians are assured that the NBA is committed to justice in this matter. In the words of the NBA President, ‘the NBA will not only get to the root of this incident, we will uproot it and take steps to deal with anyone found culpable in every lawful way. We will ensure that this does not happen to any citizen anymore.”’

Condemnation

Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said the “avoidable tragedy” underscores, yet again, the crucial importance of reforming the Nigeria Police Force.

“The important institution must live up to its constitutional mandate of protecting the people and keeping the peace. Encounters with law enforcement agents should not result in death, injury, or undue harassment for law-abiding citizens,” said Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos.

Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDD), called on the authorities to expedite action on the prosecution of the suspects to serve as a deterrent to others.

Amnesty International said it is “horrifying” that police officers who are meant to protect lives take it with impunity.

“The Nigeria Police Force’s announcement of investigation into this tragic incident must lead to justice, and the erring police officers must face prosecution in independent, impartial, public trials. Reckless resort of the police to deadly force is a human rights violation. Police brutality must end.”

“While the NBA acknowledges the sympathy and regret of the police authorities over this incident, the NBA President has unequivocally demanded that the Nigerian Police officially disclose and immediately release to Nigerians the fuller details of the errant officer and other officers responsible for this heinous act.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options