December 26, 2022

Bolanle Raheem: As Nigerian police brutality persists

Bolanle Raheem

Bolanle Raheem

By Biodun Busari

It seems no end in sight to Nigerian police brutality as a policeman attached to the Ajah Police Station, Lagos, shot dead a female lawyer, Bolanle Raheem on Sunday.

The woman was shot in the car in the presence of her family when they were returning from church while trying to make a U-turn under Ajah Bridge.

Bolanle took her family to an eatery for a Christmas celebration, but she was hunted by a police officer who shot at her vehicle. The bullet hit her and she was rushed to a nearby hospital where she died.

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While police said they have arrested and detained the officer who murdered Bolanle in cold blood, the stark reality is that Nigerians are not freed yet from Nigerian police brutality, and this calls for worry as general elections are barely two months away.

The Lagos State Police Command’s spokesman, SP Benjamin Hundeyin released a statement on Monday that the gun-wielding cop responsible for the lawyer’s killing would face the wrath of the law.

“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 SCID for further investigation,” Hundeyin said.

As promising as the Police statement might appear, the sad occurrence brings to mind the struggle of the #EndSARS in 2020 when Nigerian youths staged protests across the country to demand an end to the defunct police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

SARS operatives were robbing Nigerians at gunpoint, taking them to ATMs to force them to withdraw cash and stole it from them, and many were gruesomely killed by these trigger-happy cops.

The menace got bad in Lagos, while most of these inhuman treatments faced by Nigerians happened in Lagos Island, giving the youth a voice to demand for justice in the face of Nigerian police brutality.

At the height of these protests in the country, men in military uniform invaded a peaceful venue of the protest in Lekki Tollgate and shot at youths. The government and the Nigerian Army have not taken responsibility for the incident that left many dead.

The federal government scrapped SARS but the Nigerian police brutality has not ended, as another one has just been witnessed in the death of Bolanle.

Bolanle’s death seems to have opened the old wounds, as Nigerians are already contemplating another protest and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) also demanding justice.

Our country cannot afford to slip into another widespread demonstration as the 2023 general elections approach. But, the citizens cannot again fold their arms as security operatives have failed to value their lives.

NBA National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Lawal said it was an unfortunate incident and the president of the association, Yakubu Maikyau was monitoring the situation.

Nigerian police brutality stares us in the face but the question is will it be curtailed or eradicated? The country is in dire need of the government – executive, legislature and judiciary, the lawyers, human rights groups, the media and the people to stop the menace.

However, unless the police take full responsibility for training and retraining their personnel, Nigerian police brutality cannot stop. The mental health of the police working in metropolitan cities like Lagos should be checked from time to time.

Some police officers could not be trusted with firearms in cities where they are mentally unfit. It takes a mentally fit cop to understand the sanctity of life.