By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
The gruesome murder of CSP Kazeem Abonde of Operations Department, Lagos State Police Command, last Thursday, by irate commercial motorcyclists in Ajao Estate, is raising tension among police rank and file.
The police officer was brutally hacked to death after he led a team to enforce restrictions on commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada riders.
He was shot while engaging the rampaging bikers and as sympathizers were rushing him to a nearby clinic, the irate bikers, armed with dangerous weapons, smashed his head with stones and cudgels.
They also snatched his service pistol and released volleys of bullets into his head and body before leaving him to die.
Police sources said rank and file in the command are deeply worried that if the trend continues, it will dampen their morale and commitment towards fighting crime in the state.
They contended that the slain CSP could have been saved if adequate measures were taken to, not only protect him but, respond swiftly to distress calls after he was captured.
According to the officers, the moment the rampaging bikers were seen trying to overpower the armed policemen, a distress call for re-enforcement could have saved his life.
But his men took to their heels, giving room for the bikers to have a field day and even proceeded to the nearby police station to wreak havoc.
A security expert and President of Paths of Peace Initiative, a human rights group, Dandy Eze, who spoke with Sunday Vanguard said: “Are you saying that with teargas, the rampaging bikers could not have been dislodged? Agreed that the policemen may have been instructed not to shoot indiscriminately, why were they not equipped to face such volatile challenge which has been happening for long in the state? The recalcitrant and blood-thirsty okada bikers carried out such dastardly resistance and nearly wiped out a team of Task Force officials that went for similar enforcement at Mile 2-Second Rainbow axis in the recent past and ended up burning police vehicles. Why should we allow a repeat of such a situation?”
Similarly, another security expert, Mr. Linus Uzogor, berated the state government for what he described as the menace being constituted by okada riders.
“It is sad that the state government has shut its eyes to decency. They allowed these people of no address to be unleashing mayhem on innocent Lagosians. I expect Governor Sanwo-Olu to act fast before okada riders make the state ungovernable and inhabitable, “he added.
A Divisional police officer who also pleaded anonymity lamented that CSP Abonde had been used as a sacrificial lamb.
“He was killed simply because they were not properly equipped. No tear gas, no re-enforcement when we have even RRS and standby military team? With teargas, the bikers, no matter their number, could have been easily dispersed. You should not expect the policemen to use their weapons because in a state like Lagos if they do that, human rights activists and all manner of critics will wake up overnight from their slumber to accuse police without examining the circumstances.
“If care is not taken, worst things will happen along Mile2- Okokomaiko axis. Okada riders hold sway in the area.”
Okada riders, who are mostly of northern Nigeria extraction, have become a law unto themselves.
They lynch people including security operatives at the slightest provocation.
They terrorize motorists, passers-by, and thwart efforts by security agencies, especially the police, to enforce law and order.
Their enclaves, which are mainly uncompleted buildings and lands lying fallow, are no-go areas for security agents.
Currently, Mile-2 Bridge, Second Rainbow Bus Stop, Abule Ado Bus Stop, Alakija Bus Stop, Apple Junction and Iyana Iba Bus Stop are among the areas under the siege of okada riders.
One of the enclaves along Ago-Okota, Apple Junction Road in Amuwo-Odofin Local Government Area is called Adamawa Village.
“The brutal killing of CSP Abonde should serve as a wake-up call for the police and the state government to wield the big stick,” a source said.
…he had premonition of death —Colleagues
By Evelyn Usman
Kazeem Abonde, the Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, who was hacked to death by commercial motorcyclists, last Thursday, in Ajao Estate area of Lagos had premonition of his death.
This was disclosed by some of his colleagues who wore forlorn looks, yesterday, at the command.
Describing the way he died as painful, his colleagues said more painful was the fact that he had just eight months to complete the mandatory retirement years in the Police.
His colleagues who spoke with Sunday Vanguard on the condition of anonymity said the late Abonde who was the Operations Officer of the Lagos State Police Command planned to leave the department for an administrative unit. His proposed plan according to them was to avoid confrontation with men of the underworld owing to the sensitivity of his office.
Unfortunately, his fears were confirmed before he could make the move.
Policemen from the Operations Department had stormed Ajao Estate to raid some criminal hideouts and impound motorcycles plying the restricted areas.
But they got more than they bargained for as some of the riders dared them by standing in their way.
A heated argument that degenerated into violence occurred, during which the commercial motorcyclists in their numbers, descended on the policemen.
Abonde, as gathered, tried to mediate, only to be killed with stones and other dangerous objects.
Other policemen also had a fair share of the attack.
Attempts to rush him to a nearby hospital failed as hoodlums besieged the hospital to prevent him from being treated.
They dragged him out and pummeled him to death. Other policemen fled the scene. Not done, the okada riders destroyed one of the police patrol vans the policemen came in.
His death sparked anger from both rank and file of the Lagos State Police Command, as they blamed Police authorities for the cause of the death of Abonde.
Some said those who went for the raid were directed not to fire a shot during the operation.
One of them said: “Look at how they just killed a senior police officer like a fowl, simply because they said they should not use their weapons. Under such circumstances, they were free to use their arms according to our code.
Again, how could they have sent a few policemen to such a volatile area without enough weapons like tear gas cannisters and hot water cannons?”.
Another said: “ He saw this coming. He was contemplating leaving the OPs department by December. He told some of us that he would avoid everything that had to do with operations so as to leave the Police without a scare. But his worst fear happened before he could make that move”.
Last Thursday’s incident was not the first time commercial motorcyclists would attack policemen in the area.
A few years ago, a similar incident in which police vehicles were destroyed occurred.
In its official reaction to the attack, the Lagos State Police Command through its Public Relations Officer, CSP Ade Ajisebutu said, “ the Lagos State Police Command lost one of its finest officers during a raid on criminal hideouts in Ajao Estate, Lagos State on September 23, 2021.
The late CSP Abonde was born on January 15, 1967. He hailed from Oba Ora Local Government Area of Oyo State.
He was enlisted into the Nigeria Police on June 15, 1987 and was promoted to the rank of CSP on June 20, 2019, and was expected to retire on June 15, 2022.
Abonde had his LLB from Lagos State University in 2014. He was called to Bar in 2016 and proceeded for his Masters in Law in 2019, at the Lagos State University.