By Adedotun Ajayi
After the EndSARS social movement and other series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria and a little relieve, it seems to be on the rise again, going by the current trend.
On December 25, 2022, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, Drambi Vandi, fired a shot that killed one Bolanle Raheem during a routine traffic. The 41-year-old woman was rushed to a hospital where she was confirmed dead following the gun-shot.
Bolanle was a property lawyer, an award-winning realtor, and a mother of one. She was also pregnant with a set of twins as at the time of her death.
Vandi, who was attached to the Ajiwe Police Station, Ajah, Lagos State, is said to have spent 33 years in the police force.
The death of Bolanle Raheem has caused outrage on social media, especially since she’s the second victim of a police shooting in Ajah in two weeks.
Similarly, a yet-to-be-named trigger-happy police officer reportedly murdered his five-year-old niece in cold blood on New Year’s Eve.
Oladotun Ojuolape Kayode raised the alarm on Sunday via his verified Twitter page.
According to him, the unfortunate incident happened on Saturday in Owerri.
His tweet reads; “Trigger happy policemen. Why must you shoot in the air to celebrate? It’s despicable. A likely drunken uncle shot his niece (5 year-old) on the 31st night while trying to shoot in the air. They just came back, went to celebrate the new year at their dad’s. They lost him a year ago
“A mother that lost her husband a year ago, came to Nigeria with her three kids, and chose to celebrate at their dad’s village to mark his remembrance but a policeman ruined it. He shot in the air. The bullet pierced the girl’s stomach. She died.”
These new cases joined a list of other unsolved cases of police brutality in Nigeria over the years such as the murder of Gufaru Buraimoh, a 31-year-old man. This was during a police raid of illegal fuel marketers in the Sangotedo area of Lagos. The erring police officer was detained. However, he’s yet to be charged to court and the full report of the investigation is yet to be released.
Also, Adedeji, a journalist, was covering a protest when he was shot by a trigger-happy policeman in Osogbo, Osun State, on May 23, 2022.
A group of youths converged on a bridge in the Olaiya area of the city on April 11, 2022, to protest against the alleged extrajudicial killing of a youth by a policeman.
The protesters reportedly blocked the road and prevented vehicular movement, chanting protest songs and demanding justice for the victim whose funeral was being performed.
About 30 minutes into the protest, cops reportedly stormed the scene and shot into the crowd and journalists covering the protest in order to disperse them. The state police spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, said the Commissioner of Police, Olawale Olokode, had ordered an investigation into the circumstances that led to the alleged shooting of Adedeji.
Although, the Police Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi said the police leadership does not do anything with impunity, he however promised that operative found guilty will pay dearly for the offence committed.
“If you commit an offence as a policeman, you pay dearly for it. Nobody will tolerate that and the Police Act is very clear about it. The Constitution and Penal Laws are very clear about this.”
Adejobi’s warning came on the heel of the murder of the Lagos-based lawyer, Mrs Bolanle Raheem. Her killing has sparked outrage from many Nigerians.
The situation has forced President Muhammadu Buhari, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, and Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to condemn the incident and called for a thorough probe into it.
Speaking with The Hope, Ayodeji Ayanleye, a psychologist said psychological tests should be made compulsory before anyone can join the force.
According to him “in Nigeria, we don’t take care of our mental health, and according to research, about 25-30 percent of Nigerians suffer from mental illness and less than 10 percent of this population have access to professional assistance. The World Health Organization estimates that only about three percent of the government’s budget on health goes to mental health. In order to ensure a very effective performance in the police force, mental health should be included in the police reform, this is to give them psycho social support to enable them recover quickly from shocks and unpleasant experiences in the line of duty that may affect their mental health, when these things are taken care of, hearing about trigger-happy police will be a thing of the past,” he said
In the same vein, a legal practitioner, Khalid Okunade Omoba said the country has become a huge killing arena of defenseless citizens by the Nigerian police who gets paid by the government to protect the same people they are killing.
“It’s so shameful that these killings are still happening in the police force, it is a known fact that during the recruitment exercise of the personnel into the Nigeria Police, the recruits always undergo a series of training and activities at the Police College. Are the recruited police officers in Nigeria during orientation and training not being educated on how to relate with civilians or the appropriate way to use their guns?
Probably the police need a reorientation, they should be reminded of the main reason why they have guns with them,” he added
A retired police officer who doesn’t want his name in print said the poverty rate in the police force is very alarming, which has made a lot of officers depressed.
“Depression is real, and how people go about it is different. In a situation where an armed officer is depressed, he can do and undo.
The Nigerian government as a matter of urgency should increase the salaries of the police personnel; renovate all the barracks across the country; build additional barracks; restructure the Nigeria Police Force as well as train them,” he added.