The remains of Bolanle Raheem, the female lawyer who was killed by a trigger-happy police officer were laid to rest last Wednesday in Lagos. The circumstance surrounding the death of Bolanle is too gruesome to say the least.
To be killed right in front of one’s family and on their way back from Church on a Sunday that happens to be Christmas Day is simply too heavy to bear. But we trust that God will give the family left behind, especially the young husband who has suddenly become a widower and children made motherless on a day that they were looking forward to spending the rest of that day in the spirit of the season as family, having gone to church, the fortitude to bear this chilling episode.
On that ill-fated day when Christians all around the world were celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, Bolanle, a lawyer pregnant with twins, was killed by one Drambi Vandi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who shot at her vehicle while her husband was trying to make a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge, Lagos.
Drambi, who is now suspended, was attached to the Ajiwe Police Division in the Ajah area of the state, notorious for several human rights violations, including the murder of one Gafaru Buraimoh, who was also shot dead by a yet-to-be-identified officer from the same division three weeks earlier.
In the words of the husband to the deceased, Gbenga Raheem, “On December 25, my wife, nieces, nephews, and cousins, who had come for the holiday, all went to church. On our way back, my wife said since it was Christmas Day, we should take everyone out, so we went to a supermarket at Abraham Adesanya, and then to Domino’s Pizza.
“After that, we headed towards Ajah to do a U-turn to come back to Abraham Adesanya. When we took the U-turn, we saw policemen stopping some vehicles. As we approached them, they said we should stop, and in the process, we heard a loud sound on my wife’s side window. All of a sudden, I saw blood gushing out of her chest.
“I immediately ran out; my sister-in-law, who was also with us, ran out and held the policeman; he cocked his gun at her too. Talking to him was pointless, so I went to see if anything could be done; I saw my wife gasping for breath, and by that time, my sister-in-law had brought the policeman into the car and pushed him into the front seat.
“We drove to a hospital but they said they couldn’t handle it; we eventually took her to Grandville Hospital, where she was confirmed dead. The policemen took her body and put it in the truck; they wanted me to follow them but I said I needed to go and settle my children.”
Of course the murder left the entire nation enraged as President Muhammadu Buhari described it as “heinous and senseless.”
The president demanded that; “the strongest possible action” be taken against the culprits, just as he described the incident as a stark 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.”
The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, on his part said the action of the police officer did not represent the core values of the Nigeria Police Force. He ordered a “speedy investigation and prosecution of the officers responsible for the ugly and unprofessional act, which doesn’t portray the Nigeria Police Standard Operating Procedure and core values.”
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described the news of the incident as shocking and sad. Sanwo-Olu took to his Instagram page to express his shock at the incident and vowed that justice will be served speedily. He also sympathised with the family and friends of the deceased, describing the incident as a “mindless shooting of a citizen.”
Sadly, these incidents all follow the same pattern. People get killed for no reason, most times by drunken policemen, after a moment of outrage and condemnation we return to our normal lives and the vicious circle continues. Life on the streets of our country is now brutish, short and nasty. People get killed just for any reason. Youths get killed for wearing dreadlocks.
It is this lack of premium placed on human life in the country that makes anybody believe that they can get away with murder. Bolanle’s death attracted this amount of reaction because of the status of the personality involved. Truth is that many have been and are being killed daily and nothing is heard of their cases.
It is sad that barely two years after the uproar and protest against police brutality through EndSARS, no lesson appears to have been learnt. For so long, people have complained of the raw deal they receive from men of the police force, yet the more people complain, the more these things occur.
It’s easy to argue that there is no society completely free from extrajudicial killings by policemen, but how often do we hear of cases of policemen shooting a car with a family of father, mother, children and relatives? If the car only had male occupants then you argue that it gives room for suspicion. Even in that case there can be no justification for this dastardly conduct.
In saner societies you can be sure that the full weight of the law will be brought to bear on this culprit. One of the reasons crime has continued to increase is because there is a lack of political will to enforce the law of the land without fear or favour.
Last Thursday, the House of Representatives, expressed worry over the high rate of the incessant killing of innocent and unsuspecting citizens, arising from stray bullets of Police personnel in different parts of the country.
The House urged the IGP to take adequate measures to investigate the recent killing of Godsent Obhafuoso, a graduate of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma in Edo State by Police stray bullet on August 13, 2022, at a social event in Uromi.
The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a motion moved by Sergius Ogun, (PDP, Edo) at plenary on Wednesday in which he noted that Section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution, Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that the security and welfare of the people of Nigeria shall be the primary purpose of government.
He further informed that attempts to bring the erring Police officer to justice failed due to complacency on the part of the Police personnel at the office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 5, Edo State.
Those who supported or saw no reason to condemn the action of the FG against EndSARS protesters must be ashamed of themselves by now. This is what hapless Nigerians face on a daily basis. Who will speak for the voiceless? Who will speak for those that face police harassment on a daily basis? People get picked up on the streets and taken to detention in the hope that their families will come and pay for their bail?
If ASP Drambi was a first time offender, after seeing the effect of his actions, he should have been sober and not pointed his cocked gun again trying to shoot the late Bolanle’s sister. His action simply suggests that of someone who has done that severally and therefore, lacks empathy and without self-restraint. There are many ASP Drambis in the police.
The FG and IGP must realise that beyond rhetoric there is serious work to be done, with the quality of training and recruitment process, welfare package and adequate supervision of the police officers. The truth is that the current recruitment process allows for criminals to be recruited into the police in order to give official cover to their criminal activities.