Leading presidential candidates for Nigeria’s 2023 general elections have condemned the alleged extrajudicial killing of a Lagos-based lawyer, Bolanle Raheem by a trigger-happy Assistant Superintendent of Police, Drambi Vandi.
Five of the candidates agreed in separate statements on Monday that the Nigeria Police Force must be immediately reformed and sanitised to end cases of police brutality and extrajudicial killings of citizens.
They are Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP), Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), and Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC).
Raheem was shot dead on Christmas Day by Vandi who was attached to Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah. The cop 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.
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 but was confirmed dead.
“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,” Atiku tweeted.
The APC presidential candidate said Raheem’s killing by a trigge-happy cop underscored the need to reform the police.
“I share the grief and frustration of Nigerians over the senseless killing of Mrs. Ombolanle Raheem by a police officer on Christmas Day in Lagos. 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,” he tweeted.
Obi, who expressed shock over the “mindless killing”, said the lawyer’s death is a huge loss. “Her killing, and the loss of many innocent lives across the nation to trigger-happy policemen, is the reason why I will embark on immediate and intrusive security sector reform and governance (SSRG).
“Relatedly, we must improve the functioning and effectiveness of the police by strengthening their civilian oversight as well as increasing their strength, materiel, financial allocation, and enhanced professional training. Our national policing strength must be relative to our national population and meet global standards,” he said.
Similarly, Kwankwaso said, “The murder of Mrs Bolanle Raheem by a trigger-happy policeman underscores the need to bring thorough sanity into the Nigerian Police Force. Police officers should be the first layer of protection for citizens and shouldn’t be consistently caught being the opposite.”
Also, Sowore said it is sad that the police haven’t learnt any lessons from the #EndSARS protests of October 2020. “A system of impunity that is used to snuffing life out Nigerians must be stopped!” he tweeted.
They all expressed heartfelt condolences to the family of the victim and the Nigerian Bar Association and urged the police to ensure speedy and effective action on the matter.
‘Justice Must Be Served’
Raheem’s killing was the second in three weeks by officers of the Ajiwe Police Station. A resident of Happy Land estate in Ajah, Gafaru Buraimoh, was similarly shot dead by a policeman on December 6, 2022.
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said the “killer” of Raheem must be swiftly prosecuted and justice be immediately served.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Baba, who described the incident as unfortunate and sad, ordered speedy investigation and prosecution of the officers responsible for the ugly and unprofessional act.
The police also said they will carry out a reappraisal of their rules of engagement in a bid to put an end to such ugly incidents.
The killing of Raheem is one of the many incidents of police brutality and extrajudicial killings that have been recorded in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria time after time.
Raheem’s killing comes just over two years after police extrajudicial killings sparked a nationwide outrage that culminated in the #EndSARS protests of October 2020 when millions of youths demanded police reforms, compensation for families of victims and punishment for trigger-happy policemen.
Already, many lawyers and voices of the #EndSARS protests have condemned the killing of Raheem and demanded justice.