The Lagos State Police on Monday arrested an Assistance Superintendent of Police (ASP) known as Ayuba, attached to the Ajah Division, for killing a pregnant lawyer, Mrs. Bolanle Raheem, on Christmas Day in Ajah.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu condemned the shooting and killing of female lawyer. Sanwo-Olu pledged the state government’s “full cooperation” with the relevant authorities to ensure speedy justice in the matter.
Two of the presidential candidates in the 2023 general election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Bola Tinubu, called for reform of the Nigeria Police to guard against similar incidents in future.
A civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned the killing.
HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, warned the police against attempts to shield the culprit.
The murderous act was also condemned by a civil society group, the Rule of Law and Advocate Center (RULAAC), which called for a mental health check of police personnel.
Executive Director of RULAAC, Mr Okechukwu Nwangwuma, described the fatal shooting as “the height of inhumanity”.
The deceased, alongside four children, were said to be returning from an outing in their car about 11am on Christmas Day when the ASP tried to stop them.
According to a source, Raheem was trying to make a U-turn under Ajah Bridge when the ASP, allegedly, shot at her vehicle and the bullet hit her. It was gathered that she was rushed to a hospital, but was later confirmed dead.
Another source quoted the late lawyer’s younger sister to have said the policemen flagged down Bolanle’s vehicle and her husband slowed to allow the car in front of him to move so he could park, when the policeman opened fire and killed her instantly.
The state police spokesman, Superintendent of Police (SP) Benjamin Hundeyin, said two other police officers, who were with the ASP, had also been arrested for interrogation.
Hundeyin added, “Unfortunate and avoidable incident that was. The ASP that shot and two others with him have since been taken into custody.
“They are to be moved to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, for further investigations.”
He said the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Abiodun Alabi, had been in touch with the family of the deceased and with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Hundeyin added that the police commissioner assured the family that justice would prevail.
Similarly, the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Usman Baba, on Monday condemned the shooting and killing of Raheem.
Baba described the incident as “unfortunate and sad,” and ordered speedy investigation and prosecution of the officers responsible for what he called an ugly and unprofessional act, which did not portray the Nigeria Police Standard Operating Procedure and core values.
The IG commiserated with the family, friends, and colleagues of the deceased and prayed for the repose of her soul.
A statement issued by Force Headquarters, Abuja, said the IG further assured the public of justice in the case and warned officers and men of the force to be professional and people-oriented in the discharge of their duties and operate within the ambit of the law.
He said the police high command “will not condone any inappropriate or unprofessional acts.”
Sanwo-Olu, condemned the killing of the female lawyer. The governor expressed shock and sadness at the mindless shooting and sympathised with the family, friends and associates of the late Bolanle.
Sanwo-Olu further pledged the state government’s “full support and cooperation with the police authorities” in their investigation to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the shooting that led to the untimely death of the innocent citizen, to ensure that justice was served.
The governor stated, “I have studied preliminary reports on the matter and have instructed the appropriate government officers to immediately get on it.
“We must ensure speedy justice for the late Bolanle. Our government cannot sit back and watch our citizens killed by the same law enforcers that should ordinarily protect them.”
While acknowledging the arrest, disarming, and detention of the police officers involved in the shooting incident, the governor vowed that the accused persons would have their day in court.
He promised, “Nothing will be spared under the Laws of Lagos State until justice is served adequately. We will ensure that it is done speedily because justice delayed is justice denied.”
In a related development, two of the presidential candidates in the 2023 general election, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his All Progressives Congress (APC) counterpart, Bola Tinubu, called for the reform of the Nigeria Police.
Atiku said the shooting called to attention the urgent need for police reforms that would sanitise the Force and bring it in line with best policing practices.
Atiku in a Tweet on the matter, wrote, “The shooting of Bolanle Raheem by a police officer is heartbreaking and stands condemned. 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.
“I express my deepest condolences to the family, friends and the Nigeria Bar Association, in particular its Lagos chapter. May her soul rest in peace. –AA.”
On his part, Tinubu said the tragedy underscored, yet again, the crucial importance and urgency of reforming the Nigeria Police.
The former Lagos State governor tweeted, “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.”
HURIWA, National Coordinator, Onwubiko, in a statement, warned the police not to cover up the identity of the culprit, who is said to be an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP).
While demanding the immediate prosecution of the principal “murderer”, HURIWA insisted that the police must make public his name and photograph.
Onwubiko stated, “It is very unfortunate that trigger-happy policemen continue to send young innocent Nigerians to early graves and the authorities continue to look the other way.
“The killing of Raheem is particularly painful because officers from the same Ajiwe police station in Ajah on December 6, 2022 also shot dead Gafaru Buraimoh, a resident of Happy Land Estate in Ajah.
“HURIWA condemns these heinous assassinations and demand the immediate prosecution of the murderers involved. It is still unthinkable how that a family was served the killing of their daughter as a Christmas Day and Boxing Day gift. This is the height of callousness and inhumanity of police officers despite the October 2020 nationwide protests against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.”
The killing also drew condemnation from RULAAC, which called for a mental health check of police personnel.
Executive Director of RULAAC, Nwangwuma, said regarding the killing, “It is the height of inhumanity to shoot at an unarmed innocent citizen unprovoked. This underscores the urgent need to look into the mental health of the men we entrust with our arms and ammunition.
“This is a crime, one too many, and the police must ensure that justice is done.”
Alex Enumah, Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Rebecca Ejifoma in Lagos