From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Christopher Oji and Lukman Olabiyi
President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the extrajudicial killing of lawyer, Ms. Omobolanle Raheem, by on-duty policemen on Christmas Day in Lagos.
She is alleged to have been shot dead by a trigger-happy Assistant Superintendent of Police, Drambi Vandi, attached to Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah. It is alleged that the police officer shot her inside a car that had her husband and other family members having tried to stop them as they drove back home from a Christmas Day church service.
Her murder has elicited wide condemnation from a cross section of Nigerians.
Yesterday, President Buhari joined other Nigerians in flaying her brutal killing.
In a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, the president said he was deeply shocked and saddened, describing Omobolanle’s killing as heinous and senseless and a stark reminder of the recurring menace of the mishandling of weapons.
He directed police authorities to take the strongest possible action against the culprits already held in police detention.
He said Omobolanle’s killing was a wake-up call on law enforcement agencies, including the police, to ensure full implementation of reforms instituted by the administration on the subject of weapons handling and 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has assured that the suspects would be charged to court soon.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, stated this through the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyo Onigbanjo, who led a government delegation to condole with the bereaved family in their home in Ajah.
“We have the permission of Mr. Governor to tell you that justice will be done in this matter. The matter will be charged to court as soon as the police send us the case file. I will be leading the prosecution to show the seriousness the government attaches to this matter,” Onigbanjo said.
The governor urged the family to take heart and prayed that the Almighty God would console them..
Also in the delegation were the Head of Service, Muri Okunola, who signed the condolence register on behalf of the government, Women and Poverty Alleviation Commissioner, Mrs Bolaji Dada, and Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso.
The widower, Mr. Gbenga Raheem, thanked Sanwo-Olu for his empathy.
•2 hospitals refused to treat my wife, she died in third –Widower
Meanwhile, Mr. Raheem has revealed that her late wife was rejected by two hospitals and confirmed dead in the third.
The bereaved, who recounted the ordeals experienced by the family said following the gun shot injuries, the female lawyer was first rushed to Budo Specialist Hospital, but they said they could not handle it and referred her to Doren Hospital.
“On reaching Doren hospital, they tried to put bandages and cotton wool on her chest. They asked what happened? I said a policeman shot her. They tried to put oxygen on her because she said she couldn’t breathe. They tried to put a syringe in her hand too. The nurse eventually said since it was a bullet, they couldn’t handle it and that we should take her to Grandville Hospital at VGC. On reaching Grandville, they declared that she was no more.”
Raheem said on Christmas day, the family woke up in good health with no premonition that death was lurking for the wife.
“My church in Ikoyi was having a programme. So, we decided (my late wife, children, my niece and nephew that came to spend the holiday with us) to go to a nearby church. After service, my wife said we should take everyone out since it was Christmas day. We went to Alibaba Supermarket near Abraham Adesanya, where we got ice cream. Thereafter, we went to Domino’s Pizza, near Thomas Estate, we had our pizza and ice cream. From there, we headed towards Ajah to do a U-turn to come back to Abraham Adesanya.
“As we were making the U-turn, we saw policemen stopping cars. They said we should stop. In the process, we heard a loud sound on my wife’s side window. All of a sudden I saw her chest open and blood was gushing out.
“Immediately, I ran out. My sister in- law who was also with us ran out and held the policeman. He (policeman) corked his gun on her. Talking to him was pointless. I ran back into the car to see if anything could be salvaged on my wife. I saw her gasping for breath. By that time my sister in -law had brought the policeman to the car and pushed him to the front seat.”
•Police release 2 officers, PSC urges immediate investigation
The Police command in Lagos State said two police officers arrested with ASP Vandi were released yesterday, as they were not involved in the crime.
The command’s spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, made the disclosure, yesterday, while giving an update on the killing.
He said they were arrested because they saw what happened and released after giving testimonies.
Hundeyin said the main officer was still in detention yet to be charged to court because his dismissal order has not been released.
“Beyond this incident, the Nigeria Police Force will carry out a reappraisal of its rules of engagement, to put an end to such avoidable ugly incidents.”
The spokesman appealed to residents of the state to remain calm, as the Command was already in touch with the NBA and other relevant stakeholders, to ensure that justice totally prevails.
Meanwhile, the Police Service Commission (PSP) has called on the police leadership to immediately commence investigation into the shooting and killing of Mrs Raheem.
Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, in a statement, yesterday, in Abuja. described the incident as irresponsible and savage, and urged the Force’s management to report the outcome of the investigation to the commission for consideration and further disciplinary action. He called on the Nigeria police to put in place a formidable programme for further training of its men in weapon handling.
•Stop killing innocent Nigerians, LERSA tells police
The Lekki Estates Residents and Stakeholders Association (LERSA), the umbrella association of estates and residents in the Lekki-Epe corridor of Lagos State, has called for a stop in the killing of its members and other Nigerians by policemen.
LERSA, in a statement by its president, Olorogun James Emadoye, described the killing of Mrs. Raheem by the police as distressing and one of too many incidents within a very short period.
Emadoye recalled that just a few weeks ago, there was a protest against the killing of a promising young man in the Sangotedo area which almost went out of control.
The LERSA president said the association did not think that protests would produce required results and, therefore, started engaging with the relevant authorities to find a lasting solution to what has become a major threat to the communities in the corridor and the whole country.
“I, in company of some members of our executive, had a meeting the same morning of the incident with the Area J Police Commander. I can assure you that the authorities themselves are disturbed over this. A harmless pregnant mother with four children in a vehicle killed for nothing. We must strategise and see how to do other things that will stop this sort of incidence,” Emadoye said.
One of the measures that LERSA is strongly proposing, Emadoye revealed, is the involvement of the community in helping to check the mental health of weapon-bearing security officers.
“The association will establish immediate contact with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police on this challenge. Our thoughts go to the husband and children of the deceased this season. May God comfort them and grant them the fortitude to carry on,” he said.
He added that LERSA will ensure that justice is obtained for the family of the deceased and see that her death brings an end to such waste of human lives in the country.
“We are happy that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Commissioner of Police are already involved, and we are pleading that action does not only end with the prosecution of the murderers of Mrs Raheem and possible compensation for her family, but also includes clear, measurable and sustainable actions and measures that will bring to an end to sad occurrences like this. This is the only way the community can hope to eventually recover from this black Christmas,” Emadoye concluded.