As the demand for justice for the slain pregnant lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, heightens, the Police Service Commission on Thursday approved the immediate suspension of the suspected killer cop, ASP Drambi Vandi.
The spokesperson for the PSC, Ikechukwu Ani, confirmed the development in a statement after the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, recommended that Vandi be suspended for pulling the trigger that claimed Raheem’s life on Christmas Day in the Ajah area of Lagos State.
Ani said, “The commission, in a letter to the Inspector-General of Police signed by the acting chairperson, Clara Ogunbiyi, stated that the commission has carefully examined the facts of the case, observations and recommendations with respect to allegations against the officer and granted approval for the suspension of the officer from duty with immediate effect.”
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, said there would be no cover-up in the investigation and prosecution of the culprit.
The governor, during his visit to the IG at the police headquarters in Abuja, said the outcome of the investigation into the case was important to the government and the people of the state.
“We have come here this morning first to extend season greetings to the Inspector-General of Police and also to get an update and to brief him as to the security situation of Lagos State, especially the very recent unfortunate incident of the death of a lady , Bolanle Raheem hit by the bullet of a police officer and also an earlier incident that occurred weeks before then.
“For me as the governor of the state, I think it is important and it is that serious for us to come here and get a sense of how soon we can get to charge this officer to court. And we have got a very positive response and engagement from the Inspector General of Police himself,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The Nigeria Bar Association, Lagos Branch, on Thursday, vowed to monitor Vandi’s prosecution.
In a statement, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), said he would lead a team of lawyers from the NBA to partner the Lagos State Ministry of Justice in prosecuting the police officer.
“The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch, to which Mrs. Raheem belongs, Mr. Ikechukwu Uwana, contacted Mr. Adegboruwa to lead the team of lawyers for the NBA that will monitor the trial of the cop.
“The NBA, Lagos, in conjunction with the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr YC Mikyau (SAN), has decided to be part of the prosecution of the policeman as part of efforts towards securing quick and effective justice for the family of the deceased,” the statement said.
According to the News Agency of NigeriaAdegboruwa explained that the NBA would seek payment of damages to the tune of N5bn, and demanded re-orientation for all police officers and men in the handling and use of weapons.
Also, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), while reacting to the tragic death of Raheem, said it was time for lawyers to take a stand against atrocities committed by trigger-happy policemen in Nigeria.
In the statement on Thursday, Falana said, “The cruel killing of Mrs. Bolanle Raheem provides an opportunity for the Nigerian people, led by lawyers, to address the root cause of the extrajudicial killings of unarmed citizens by law enforcement officers.”
Falana, while stressing the need for the inclusion of human rights into the curriculum of the Nigeria Police Academy, said the training of police cadets remained as brutish as it was under the British colonial regime.
But the President of the NBA, Yakubu Maikyau, in a program monitored by our correspondent on Channels Television on Thursday, said the association was suspicious of the prosecution of Vandi.
Maikyau, while citing sections 96 and 103 of the Police Act 2020, argued that he did not agree that the public should wait for the suspension of the erring officer before the commencement of his prosecution.
He said, “Of course, if you look at the provisions of the Police Act 2020, if you read Section 96 of that Act, and also Section 103 of that Act, it is very clear, that once a police officer is accused of having committed a particular crime, and in this particular case, the suspicion is that of murder, there is nothing that can be interpreted in that Act, as not allowing for the prosecution of that police officer, or subjecting the prosecution or investigation of that police officer , to certain internal mechanisms of the Nigeria Police.”
In his reaction to Raheem’s death, the Senator representing Ondo South Senatorial District, Nicholas Tofowomo, urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to carry out police reform to curb extra-judicial killings of innocent Nigerians by security agents.
Tofowomo, in a statement by his media aide, Olumide Akinrinlola, said, “President Buhari should be aware that I have been agitating for meaningful police reform since I was inaugurated as a member of the 9th senate in 2019. His Excellency still has significant time to set up a police reform conference as a legacy you can leave behind.”
Also, a coalition of over 223 women’s organizations under the aegis of Womanifesto, on Thursday, demanded justice for the 41-year-old lawyer.
While describing the unlawful use of force as “a threat to life, liberty, security and equal protection under the law”, the NGO said there were strict international standards governing how and when the police could use force, or firearms.
A human rights organization, Women Aid Collective, while condemning the killing of Raheem by a trigger-happy policeman, said the police had not learned anything from the #EndSARS protest, adding that since the protest, policemen had “exacerbated their atrocities with utter impunity against Nigerians they were paid to protect.”