By Kenneth Enadeghe
Trending news relate to the killing of a pregnant lawyer on Sunday after an officer opened fire at her family’s vehicle at a checkpoint in Ajah. The circumstances remain unclear.
Nigeria police sources say they are investigating an officer who shot and killed an unarmed pregnant lawyer after she left a Christmas church service.
In this connection, a spokesman for the Lagos City police vowed that investigations into the matter would be swift. But critics say Nigerian authorities aren’t doing enough to stop police brutality that sparked protests in 2020.
Meanwhile the police in Lagos has condemned the Sunday shooting and say they are holding the officer and his teammates in detention pending the outcome of investigations.
Police spokesman, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the case is being handled by the criminal investigation department for in-depth analysis.
He informed the public that the police will re-appraise their rules of engagement to avoid future incidents.
Sadly, the victim Omobolanle Raheem, was on her way home from a Christmas Day service when the officer shot at her family’s vehicle at a checkpoint in Ajah, killing her and her unborn child.
However, the circumstances surrounding this shooting remain unclear.
According to findings, the officers were conducting a stop-and-search operation, but no one is certain about what triggered the shooting.
The incident has, in any case, attracted widespread criticism of police and the Nigerian authorities by citizens and rights groups, including Amnesty International.
On Monday, Lagos state police authorities met with the leaders of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Hussein Afolabi, a human rights lawyer, said there are too many open questions.
“The only reason why you have to use your firearm is if somebody is armed,” he said. “There’s no reason; there’s no justification for that kind of shooting, I don’t know whether they’re going to do any drug test for that guy. Was he drunk? What was the guy’s mental state? Nobody knows.”
Unfortunately, Afolabi had been trying to help four families that were victims of police brutality in Oyo State, including the family of Jimoh Ishiak, who was allegedly shot and killed near his house by officers during widespread protests against police brutality in October 2020.
And for two weeks that month, activists marched in the streets, calling on authorities to disband the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS and dismiss its members from the police force.
Nigerian authorities said they were disbanding the unit but Afolabi says two years later, the officers are still in employment.
“Were they retrenched? They said they disbanded,” Afolabi said. “Where are those people? They’re somewhere. They’re no longer SARS. I have friends who are SARS. They’re still in the Nigeria police force.”
End SARS protest leader Rinu Oduala said the government lacks the political will to address police brutality issues.
The Nigerian government is a major perpetrator of police brutality against its own citizens and you can see that today,” Oduala said. “This has shown that the Lagos state government and the Nigerian government have learnt nothing and they’re not willing to address the grievances of police brutality protesters.”
Amnesty International said the police investigation must be impartial and made public.
Many will be waiting to see how — or if — justice will be served.
In a related development,
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the police authorities to take “the strictest possible action” against the culprits already held in detention over the killing of Omobolanle Raheem, a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Regrettably, Mrs Raheem was shot dead by an Assistant Superintendent of Police on Christmas Day in the Ajah area of Lagos.
President Buhari, who condemned what he called the “heinous and senseless” killing, said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” to learn of the brutal deed.
The President, in a statement issued on Tuesday by his media aide, Malam Garba Shehu, said the incident was a sad reminder of the recurring menace of the mishandling of weapons and a wakeup call to law enforcement agencies, including the police, to ensure the full implementation of reforms instituted by the administration on the subject of weapons handling as well as the protection of the rights of citizens.
“In this hour of grief, the nation stands in solidarity with the bereaved family and the NBA. I assure that justice will be done in this case,” the President stressed.