BOLANLE RAHEEM: MORE QUESTIONS FOR ALLEGED KILLER COP

Many officers of the Nigeria Police Force have brought sorrows of inestimable magnitude to many families. The killing of a lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, in Lagos on Christmas day, 25 December 2022, is one of such heartbreaking stories. From the reports, we learnt that the deceased lawyer was an expectant mother, after many years of waiting.

The President of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi, have all assured the family of the deceased lawyer that justice will be timely done. Also, the Nigerian Bar Association has demanded full investigation and indicated interest to be part of the case.

More questions for alleged killer cop

The alleged killer cop, ASP Dambri Vandi, is said to have put in over 30 years in the service of the Nigeria Police Force. Thus, beyond the investigation and prosecution of the alleged killer cop, the Inspector General of Police is called upon to thoroughly investigate the activities of Dambri Vandi. There is the possibility that an officer facing this kind of murder charge would have been involved in several other criminal atrocities in his years in service. 

What level of ‘youthful exuberance’ would make an officer of over 30 years experience lose control of himself and the gun in his possession until it led to a rush of blood from the heart of noble lady? 

The officer should be made to make full disclosure of all he might know. He should reveal other officers (especially from that Ajiwe Police Station) possibly involved in other crimes against innocent citizens. Recently, the alleged killing of one Gafaru Buraimoh by officer(s) of Ajiwe Police State made headlines.

Incidents such as the one involving the deceased Bolanle account for the reasons Nigerians embarked on the famous #EndSARS protest. But there are strong indications that the Nigeria Police is yet to fully learn any lesson.

The intimidation, harassment, embarrassment, extortion, killing and gross violation of the human rights of citizens seem not to have any ending time in sight. Many of these officers abuse the rights of citizens with impunity. They can be safely described as the Enemy who came only to steal, kill and destroy. In the Nigerian Law reports and media, we find litany of cases involving police officers convicted for various violent crimes committed against innocent citizens whom they are employed to protect. In the police formation are many officers who lack the fear of God and who do not command the moral code needed in a decent society. We have officers who are mentally deranged and operate under the influence of alcohol, drugs and dangerous substances. But are allowed to wield live ammunition. Ironically, these officers employed for internal security are security threat themselves.

The Federal Government must move to sanitise the Nigeria Police Force. There must be grave consequences for crimes and inappropriate behaviour by officers. Police officers must be held accountable, always. There must be an end to police brutality and wanton impunity.

Many Nigerians have died in the hands of police officers. Sadly, the Late Bolanle Raheem has made the list in the most agonising manner. The grave consequences of the dastardly acts of our police officers are affecting our unborn children. The foetus in the womb of the Late Bolanle has been made to feel the wickedness associated with the police. The damage done is irreparable.

Conclusion

Let the law take its course, and swiftly too. The Government is urged to take reasonable steps to compensate the family of the deceased lawyer, and may all broken hearts find closure. No amount of compensation can bring Bolanle back, but compensation is an ointment for consolation.

The demand for compensation is not so much of a plea but a matter of legal right. We must note that while the alleged killer cop, ASP Dambri Vandi, may face criminal prosecution, he and the office of the Inspector General of Police may be held responsible in a separate fundamental rights action to be instituted by the family of the deceased lawyer. In the case of Mrs. Precious Omonyahuy & Ors. v. Inspector General of Police & Ors. (2015) LPELR-25581(CA), it was held that the constitutional right to life of a deceased person can be enforced by his/her dependants. The Court of Appeal expressly held that:

The fact that there is possibility of prosecution for a case of murder does not deny an aggrieved applicant the constitutionally guaranteed right to enforce his right.



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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09079024002 stephenlegalblog@gmail.com info@stephenlegal.ng

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