WE are horrified at the haste with which the authorities appear to have put the tragic events of Monday, July 22, 2019 behind them. On that day, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, in charge of operations at the Federal Capital Territory Command, Usman Umar, was shot in the head and he died instantly.
Also a reporter and National Youth Service Corps member with Channels Television, Precious Owolabi, was shot and later lost his life. Between two and eleven members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, who were on a protest for the release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky, were also killed.
It was the bloodiest day so far since the IMN started their series of peaceful and orderly protests after their leader was detained in December 2015 even after several court orders had been issued for his release on bail.
From the look of things, the shot that killed DCP Umar was the very first to be fired, which obviously led to the use of more live firearms that claimed other lives and injured scores of protesters.
The column of policemen had closed ranks to prevent the protesters from proceeding. Umar, who led them, had come out to address the protesters to disperse, then the first shot rang out.
Several speculations followed that shooting. Police sources alleged it must have been an IMN “sniper’s” bullet that killed the DCP, while IMN sources accused the police of shooting their own leader out of error or “incompetence” (usually referred to as “friendly fire”). It was while these accusations and counter-accusations were going on that Nigerians were shocked the following day when photos of DCP Umar’s burial according to Islamic rites surfaced. The youth corps member, Owolabi, has also been buried.
We are alarmed at these quick committals for several reasons. The DCP was sent on official duty by the Nigerian state to maintain law and order.
Also, Owolabi was a corps member serving his country on a duty post that turned riotous. Both died while serving the nation in active capacity. Even the Shi’ites that were protesting were enjoying their constitutional and fundamental human rights.
We ought to have shown more regard and sensibility to their persons by ensuring a thorough investigation of the true causes of their demise.
Beyond the dignity of their persons, such an investigation will go a long way in determining the sources of the bullets that took their lives, particularly those of the DCP and the youth corps member.
If indeed it was a sniper fire, then the bullet could reveal if foreign unseen hands have already started meddling in the IMN uprising. We believe it is not too late for such a forensic investigation to be initiated.