The PUNCH has listed the 10 victims of senseless police shootings in 2022.
There appears to be no end in sight to the highhandedness and brutality of citizens by some members of the Nigeria Police Force despite calls for its reform.
Ironically, this, among other things, was what led to the protests by youths for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad; a unit in the Force created to tackle robbery among other crimes.
The protesters, mainly youths , launched the #EndSARS campaign and raised five key demands which included abolition of the squad, immediate release of arrested protesters; justice for victims of police brutality, establishment of an independent body to investigate police misconduct and salary increase for cops.
On October 11, 2020, the Federal Government announced the disbandment of SARS. But there were still claims that officers of the disbanded police unit in service still patrol streets in plainclothes, extorting, arresting and torturing citizens without reason.
Two years later, extrajudicial killings have yet abated. In fact, the highhandedness and brutality of the cops have increased with families grieving over the senseless killing of their loved ones.
Saturday PUNCH chronicles 10 victims of police shootings and events leading to some of the extrajudicial killings across the country in 2022.
On December 25, 2022, a cop attached to the Ajah Police Station shot dead a 41-year-old pregnant lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, under the Ajah Bridge, in the presence of her husband.
Raheem, her sister, and four children were said to be coming from an eatery in their car around 11am when the cop tried to stop them. Reports noted that her husband was trying to make a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge when the trigger-happy cop shot at the vehicle.
The bullet hit her and she was confirmed dead at the hospital she was rushed to. The killer cop is an Assistant Superintendent of Police identified as Drambi Vandi.
The death of Buraimoh was linked to the cops at the Ajah Police Division.
Buraimoh, a resident of Happy Estate in Ajah, was hit by a stray bullet at about 10pm while coming out of SkyMall on December 7, 2022 by a police inspector attached to the police station.
It was learnt that the shooting that led to Buraimoh’s death occurred during a raid of sellers of black market fuel at the Ajiwe gas station by the police. However, trouble read its head when the cops attempted to impound a black marketer’s fuel but he allegedly resisted. “His resistance angered the officers who started shooting indiscriminately,” narrated Buraimoh’s brother, Muyideen.
Reacting to the incident, spokesperson for the state police, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said, “At About 2330hrs (11:30p.m) of Tuesday, December 6, 2022, a shooting incident involving men of Ajah Division, resulted in the unfortunate death of Gafaru Buraimoh of Happy Land Estate, Ajah. “The officer behind the shooting, an inspector of police was immediately disarmed and has been detained as a full-scale investigation has commenced.’’ However, the identity of the cops was not revealed.
Igwe Odinaka and Chikere Obieche
The duo of Odinaka and Obieche were two businessmen killed on April 24, 2022, by a drunk cop at a friend’s birthday party in a hotel bar at the Gowon Estate in Lagos State.
The two businessmen who were dealers in phone accessories at the Ikeja Computer Village were hit by gunshots from a cop said to be showing off and trying to impress the birthday host when mistakenly fired gunshots into the guests who were dancing.
Despite the promise of the Lagos police spokesperson that “those responsible will not go scot free,” the promise didn’t see the light of the day.
Abayomi is a security guard at the Lekki Peninsula Scheme II, in the Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State. He was shot by a police officer enforcing the ban on motorcycle operations in Lagos on September 28. He was however fortunate to have survived.
The cop, alongside three colleagues attached to the Ogombo Police Station, stormed the Lekki Peninsula Scheme II to enforce the government’s ban on motorcycle operations on the estate when the incident happened. Reacting to the incident, the state police spokesperson confirmed the incident, including payment of Abayomi’s hospital bills. The identity of the cop was however not revealed.
On January 22, 2022, Durowaiye was killed by a cop whose N20 sachet water he drank in Kogi State.
An eyewitness revealed that Durowaiye was alleged to have taken a sachet of “pure water” belonging to the policeman from the latter’s car to drink before he met his untimely death.
Reacting to the development, Kogi State Commissioner of Police, Edward Egbuka, confirmed the incident, saying a preliminary report from the Area Commander indicated that the accused cop only tried to defend himself when he had an altercation with the victim.
Also, the identity of the killer cop was not revealed.
Obhafuoso was killed by a cop on August 13, 2022 during the burial of his master’s late mother in the Esan North East Local Government Area of Edo State.
While the victim was reportedly doing a video recording of the party and assisting his master to gather the money being sprayed on him, the policeman allegedly fired gunshots which hit a cameraman and Obhafuoso, who was pronounced dead at the Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital.
Though the state Commissioner of Police, Abutu Yaro, confirmed the incident, the policeman involved had yet to be brought to book and the family of the victim was seeking help of the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, for his prosecution.
Oliver Ezra Barawani
Barawani, a graduate of Taraba State University, was driving with his boss, Liu, an LG chairman, before he was killed by a policeman on June 4, 2022.
According to a Facebook user, Abainitus Hamman, the victim was allegedly shot by a cop at a checkpoint in Kpanti Napo near Jalingo. He wrote, “Oliver Ezra Gone too Soon! He was shot by a police officer at a checkpoint in Kpanti Napo, near the city of Jalingo. Until his death, he was a graduate of Taraba State University.
“Oliver Ezra was brutally killed for nothing. He was driving alongside the executive chairman of Lau LGA between Lakaviri and Jalingo. He was unarmed, innocent, and calm. Nigerian Police brutality has continued unabated! Instead of them dealing with the rising criminals in society, they kill innocent Nigerians.’’ The state police neither reacted to the incident nor revealed the identity of the killer cop.
Joseph, an All Progressives Congress Ward Seven youth leader in Calabar South, Calabar State, was killed by a trigger-happy police officer on May 27, 2022.
The incident occurred at the venue of the party’s primary – Cultural Centre, Calabar. The incident started when Saviour Nyong and Deputy Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Joseph Bassey, who were the two leading aspirants, arrived at the venue with their supporters.
The two aspirants began to exchange words and threatened themselves in a rowdy manner leading to the invitation of the Anti-cultism/Kidnapping officers who came and started firing bullets. Joseph was said to have been shot directly in the chest by a cop suspected to be the commander of the unit.
A source said after he was shot, the officer allegedly threw teargas canisters to disperse the people, covered the bloodstains on the ground with sand, and fled with his corpse into their office. In this case also, the police did not react to the incident nor disclose the cop’s identity.
Adedeji, a journalist, was covering a protest when he was shot by a trigger-happy policeman in Osogbo, Osun State, on May 23, 2022.
A group of youths converged on a bridge in the Olaiya area of the city on April 11, 2022, to protest against the alleged extrajudicial killing of a youth by a policeman.
The protesters reportedly blocked the road and prevented vehicular movement, chanting protest songs and demanding justice for the victim whose funeral was being performed.
About 30 minutes into the protest, cops reportedly stormed the scene and shot into the crowd and journalists covering the protest in order to disperse them. The state police spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, said the Commissioner of Police, Olawale Olokode, had ordered an investigation into the circumstances that led to the alleged shooting of Adedeji.
Uwalaka, a National Diploma Civil Engineering student of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, was shot on July 11, 2022, by a policeman attached to the Nekede Police Division.
Uwalaka was said to be returning from church that Sunday afternoon when the cop shot at him with the bullet hitting the student’s hostel (BenJen lodge) gate in Umuokomoche, Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State. However, the police didn’t release any press statement on the incident.
Lawyers, psychologist react
Commenting on non-disclosure of some cops linked to reckless shootings, a lawyer and human rights activist, Ridwan Oke, noted that the issue bordered on accountability, stating that the police system was not accountable to Nigerians and only wanted to shield corrupt and erring members of the Force.
“I have said it many times that the police are more focused on image laundering and projecting their good side to the public than looking inward to punish and make their officers accountable for their atrocities. The police only respond to popular cases. If a case is not popular and no one is aggressively demanding that the erring cops be held accountable, they just look away,” Oke said.
He maintained that there was no Police Act supporting the action of the Force discreetly keeping the identities of erring cops.
On the legal implications of protecting identities of erring cops, Oke stressed that the police might not want to unveil erring cops’ identities because they had not been convicted of such offences or not guilty of it.
Another Nigerian lawyer based in the United Kingdom, Morakinyo Olasupo, said that it was worrisome that extra-judicial killings by cops had been a tradition rather than exceptions.
He noted, “The worst part of it is that the police fail to parade the obvious killers of civilians, compared to its practice if the suspect is a civilian. It is equally worrying and alarming that these parades and media trials by the police of suspects, usually take place even before investigations begin, or are concluded with a detailed report on the alleged crime.’’
Olasupo added that generally, the Nigerian laws frown at illegal and unconstitutional act of public parading of suspects before the media by the police, saying it was because the practice is against the presumption of innocence as guaranteed in section 36(5) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said, “This principle of law entertains no exception, whether you are rich or poor, male or female, northerner or southerner. In fact, the idea of public parading of suspect is an infringement on the fundamental human rights of the suspect. In other words, the suspect is entitled to dignity of his human person, by virtue of Section 34(1) (a) of the CFRN 1999, and any action against this is an infringement. If the Nigeria Police is being arbitrary, violation of fundamental right should be at the lowest. This is because citizens’ fundamental human rights are rights which by their nature predated human existence. They are not just mere rights. The Supreme Court reaffirmed this position in the case of Saude v Abudullah (1989) 4 NWLR Pt. 116 page 387 @419, as:
“Fundamental rights are important, and they are not just mere rights. They are fundamental. They belong to the citizens. These rights have always existed, even before orderliness prescribed rules for the manner they are to be sought after.
“Now, to the instance under review, it’s sad how we heard the murder of our late learned colleague by a member of the Nigerian Police Force identified as Vandi. It is also shocking and mind disturbing. Some concerned members of the public have called on the Nigeria Police Force to, as they occasionally do, for other persons suspected to have committed heinous crimes, parade the suspected killer of the lawyer. Further to the above principles of law, it is submitted that no law commands the NPF to parade the officer in question. Again, this is because parading of a suspect in Nigeria is illegal because it offends the provision of section 36(5) of the Constitution granting presumption of innocence in favour of any person suspected to have committed any crime against the law. However, it is morally inexcusable for the police to say that they cannot parade the suspect being a police officer because some preliminary investigations have to be done. It is our, however my submission, that we should strike a balance between the law and morality and no one should be an exception to the law, on the basis of affiliation. In fact, it’s discriminatory, in wider sense of it.’’
Besides, a clinical psychologist, Ajibola Damilola, said that the rifles held amid civilians were enough power to see themselves as powerful among others.
“Another problem is that most of the policemen barely see themselves in the face of danger. They are merely externalising their death instinct by shooting at unarmed citizens. If a cop walks around with a baton rather than an assault rifle, his instinct will inform him that he likely might not win the argument he or issue he is about to start with a civilian. But because they are tempted by the power that comes with rifles, they forget the consequences that might arise after shooting,” Damilola added.
The mental health expert noted that the Force needed to conduct psychological tests on their members and should even make it one of the requirements before joining the Force, adding, “Their rifles should also be replaced with either baton. The rifle is too enormous to hold amid unarmed civilians.”