The dust is yet to settle on the Christmas Day killing of Lagos–based pregnant lawyer, Bolanle Raheem by trigger-happy Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Drambi Vandi of the attached to Ajiwe Police Station, in Ajah.
The incident came less than three weeks after a similar incident occurred at the same location where another officer shot Gafaru Buraimoh.
This also comes over two years after the unending police extrajudicial killings sparked a nationwide outrage that led to the #EndSARS protests in October 2020 when millions of youths demanded police reforms, compensation for families of victims and punishment for trigger-happy policemen.
ASP Vandi and his team were said to have tried to stop Raheem and her family members as they drove back home from a Christmas Day church service.
According to reports, Raheem was shot when the car she was on tried to make a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge. The victim was rushed to a hospital where she was confirmed dead.
It was gathered that the officer tried to flee the scene immediately, but he was caught and detained by the police. The late Raheem, was killed in the presence of her children and family members.
A 2021 report by the Centre for Democracy and Development revealed that security agents extrajudicially killed over 13,000 Nigerians in the last one decade.
Condemning the action of the officer, and confirming the killing of Raheem, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba commiserated “with the family, friends, and colleagues of the diseased as he prays for the repose of her soul.
“He further assures the general public of justice in the case while he warns officers and men of the Force to be professional and people-oriented in the discharge of their duties and operate within the ambit of the law, as the Force’s leadership will not condone any inappropriate or unprofessional acts,” the statement read.
The State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu condemned the killing, pledging the state government’s “full support and cooperation with the police authorities” with the relevant authorities to ensure speedy justice.
He said, “I have studied preliminary reports on the matter and have instructed the appropriate government officers to immediately get on it.
“We must ensure speedy justice for the late Bolanle. Our government cannot sit back and watch our citizens killed by the same law enforcers that should ordinarily protect them.
“Nothing will be spared under the Laws of Lagos State until justice is served adequately. We will ensure that it is done speedily because justice delayed is justice denied,” he added.
Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, on his Tweeter wrote, “The shooting of Bolanle Raheem by a police officer is heartbreaking and stands condemned. This latest shooting calls to attention the urgent need for police reforms that will sanitise the Force and bring it in line with best policing practices.
“I call on the police authorities and the justice system to expedite action on the matter, as justice delayed is justice denied. This will serve as a deterrent to the incidents of irresponsible shooting of innocent citizens by law enforcement agents.
“I express my deepest condolences to the family, friends and the Nigeria Bar Association, in particular its Lagos chapter. May her soul rest in peace. –AA.”
Adding his voice, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Ahmed Tinubu said, “The avoidable tragedy, which cost a family a beloved member and our country a diligent legal professional, underscores, yet again, the crucial importance and urgency of reforming the Nigeria Police Force.”
Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, SP Benjamin Hundeyin described the incident as “unfortunate and avoidable”, and assured the public that justice will be done.
“The ASP that shot and two others with him have since been taken into custody,” Hundeyin tweeted on Monday.
“The Lagos State Police Command condoles with the family, friends and colleagues of Barrister Bolanle Raheem. 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,” he added.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) condemned the killing and demanded for justice. The Association’s National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal said, “We are aware of this unfortunate incident. This is yet another crime against a lawyer. Regrettably, our member is gone…We shall ensure that justice is duly served.”
In the same vein, Chairman of the Lagos State branch of the Nigeria Bar Association branch, Ikechukwu Uwanna, told The Guardian that, “This is a very unfortunate incident, it’s catastrophic, it is something that must be condemned by everyone who has civility in them. We are still trying to recover from the rude shock; our heart goes out to the family members who are traumatised by this incident but we’ve reached out to the state’s Police Commissioner who has now detained the officer. Prosecution is going to commence immediately.
“We will lead the charge and we have been assured of justice. We will follow up with the trial to ensure that our colleague gets justice.
“I think there has to be improvement in training, proper training of the officers especially on their engagement with civilians. For a traffic offence you see a police officer wielding a gun, it is unheard of that a harmless citizen is engaged like that. There must be proper training and critical evaluation of the mental state before an officer is given a gun, to be sure that they have sound mental state to handle those guns,” Uwanna added.
The Human Rights Writer’s Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), in a statement by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, warned against covering up of the identity of the culprit, as it demanded the immediate prosecution of the “murderer”.
The statement the the civil rights advocacy group read in part, “It is very unfortunate that trigger-happy policemen continue to send young innocent Nigerians to early graves and the authorities continue to look the other way.
“The killing of Raheem is particularly painful because officers from the same Ajiwe police station in Ajah on December 6, 2022 also shot dead Gafaru Buraimoh, a resident of Happy Land Estate in Ajah.
“HURIWA condemns these heinous assassinations and demand the immediate prosecution of the murderers involved. It is still unthinkable how that a family was served the killing of their daughter as a Christmas Day and Boxing Day gift. This is the height of callousness and inhumanity of police officers despite the October 2020 nationwide protests against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.”
Human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong tweeted, “A lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, is reported to have been shot and murdered at close range on Christmas Day by a rogue policeman attached to Ajiwe Police Division, Ajah. This is barbaric.
“It is a sad commentary that despite EndSARS, Nigerians are still being slaughtered by the police.”
Popular comedian Debo Adebayo, also known as Mr Macaroni also described Raheem’s killing as barbaric.
“A Nigerian Police Officer from Ajiwe division shot and killed Bolanle Raheem on Xmas day. It is from this same division an Officer killed Gafaru Buraimoh about 2 weeks ago,” he wrote.
“This barbarism by the Nigerian Police must come to an end. These murderers must pay for their crimes!”
Human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, said “Lawyer Omobolanle Raheem was fatally shot dead by men of the Nigerian Police attached to Ajiwe Police Station, Ajah, Lagos. One death, too many. These evil and despicable men in uniform are getting emboldened with their reckless lawlessness. And lawyers are always targeted.
“This unfortunate incident is not unprecedented. The police have shown consistent contempt and hatred to lawyers, over the years. The legal profession must rise in unison to avert this perilous precedent. There must be consequences for impunity,” he added.
Authorities should met out stiffer punishments to errand officers to curb this menace so the country does not witness a worse #EndSARS like event.