I salute the courageous judgment of Justice Ibironke Harrison of the Lagos State High Court who on Monday, 9th of October 2023 found guilty the police officer, Drambi Vandi, who fatally shot and killed Bolanle Raheem, a Lagos based lawyer and expectant mother, on Christmas Day in 2022 at the Ajah roundabout in Lagos and sentenced him to death by hanging.
This October, in two weeks time, we shall witness three years anniversary of the historical march to end police brutality in Nigeria which has gone down in our history as END-SARS protest. After the cosmetic assurances given through the setting up of judicial panels which sat in various states at the expense of public funds, the recommendations of these panels on police brutality never saw the light of the day till date. Three years had gone by that we said no more, nothing has changed, no lesson learnt and the police are still killing citizens!
If we were a serious nation, that respects the sanctity of human life and nurtures fears for consequences of grave infractions, serious and fundamental police reforms would have kick-started with 2020 protest. But what do we have in Nigeria, an incompetent mimicry of change, like in government, SARS transformed to SWAP but the beastiality and brutality in the hearts of men of the force did not go away and the business of extortion, oppression, corruption, unprofessional practices, abuse of office, violation of human rights and total disrespect to dignity of human person of fellow citizens are continue.
Abuse of use of the police powers by those in government and their cronies is the number one reason why there can’t be any meaningful police reform in Nigeria. Those in power in this country do not see the police more than their own personal pre-paid instrument of vendetta to show superior powers to their fellow citizens in matters that are often than not purely personal and civil and the policing system is left structured to satisfy that cravings of just the few men of affluence and influence in this country and the men of the force have been orientated by experience and the body language of successive governments to believe that they exist only for use by the rich for the hunting and when necessary, killing of the poor. No country will witness prosperity that creates a police which only exists to kill its poor citizens. Justice has been served in Bolanle Raheem’s case, but will the killing be the last?
If Nigeria must survive, the judiciary must not sink, but must be courageous enough to rise up and stand firm with the people to ensure that all forms of abuse of powers by government agencies attract judgments. Our courts must be eager to roll out consequences for violation of the rights of citizens and any abuse of office or power.
Justice Krisha Iyer had prophetically urged us to remember that “…all the wrecks on either side of the stream of time and all the nations that passed away all are a warning that no nation founded upon injustice can stand”.
Tope Temokun Esq.
October 10, 2023