Barr. Raheem: Why IGP must set scapegoat to end extrajudicial killings 


More condolences and condemnations have continued to set social media ablaze across the four walls of Nigeria over the Christmas day avoidable killing by a  police officer of Omoblanle Raheem, a Lagos-based lawyer.

Many prominent Nigerians have taken to social media to express outrage over the killing and call for justice for the deceased. Men of timber and Calibre including the Inspector General of Police have sent their condolences to the bereaved family.

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday night condemned the “heinous and senseless” killing of Omobolanle Raheem, a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) shot by on-duty policemen on Christmas Day. The President said he was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the brutal killing and directed the police authorities to take “the strongest possible action” against the culprits already held in detention.

He said the incident was a stark reminder of the recurring menace of the mishandling of weapons and a wakeup call to law enforcement agencies, including the police to ensure the full implementation of reforms instituted by the administration on the subject of weapons’ handling as well as the protection of the rights of citizens.

The three popular Presidential Candidates of the major political parties, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Labour Party flagbearer, Peter Obi took to their Twitter handles to condemn the incident over the killing of late Barr. Raheem.

The Report had it that the police officer attached to the Ajah Police Station, alongside his team, tried to stop Raheem and her family members as they drove back home from church service. The suspect reportedly opened fire on the victim while her car tried to make a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge. She was later rushed to a hospital where she was unfortunately confirmed dead.

According to Tinubu, the tragedy was avoidable, saying the incident underscores the importance and urgency of reforming the Nigeria Police Force. “I share the grief and frustration of Nigerians over the senseless killing of Mrs. Ombolanle Raheem by a police officer on Christmas Day in Lagos. The avoidable tragedy, which cost a family a beloved member and our country a diligent legal professional, underscores, yet again, the crucial importance and urgency of reforming the Nigeria Police Force.”

In a similar vein, Atiku in his tweet, said the incident was heartbreaking, restating that there is an urgent need for Police reforms which according to him would sanitise the Force. “The shooting of Bolanle Raheem by a police officer is heartbreaking and stands condemned. This latest shooting calls to attention the urgent need for Police reforms that will sanitise the Force and bring it in line with best policing practices.”

The Labour Party candidate, Peter Obi, however, blamed incessant extrajudicial killings by security operatives on lack of proper training. According to him, “a well trained and professional police officer will not engage in police brutality.”

Like the other candidates, Obi also vowed to ensure immediate “Security Sector Reform and Governance, SSRG, if elected president in February 2023.”

He wrote, “Her killing, and the loss of many innocent lives across the nation to trigger-happy policemen, is the reason why I will embark on immediate and intrusive security sector reform and governance (SSRG).

“Relatedly, we must improve the functioning and effectiveness of the police by strengthening their civilian oversight as well as increasing their strength, materiel, financial allocation, and enhanced professional training. Our national policing strength must be relative to our national population and meet global standards.”

Beyond the condolences, This is the height of callousness and inhumanity of police officers despite the October 2020 nationwide protests against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.

A report released in 2021 by a human rights group, the Centre for Democracy and Development said over 13,000 Nigerians were extrajudicially killed by security agents in the last 10 years.

Extrajudicial killings by security agents have reached alarming decibel and must be stopped forthwith! The Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba; and President Muhammadu Buhari should stop these carnivorous consumption of young, innocent Nigerians by trigger-happy and dark-hearted security agents.

Ultimately, to set the record straight the IGP must introduce a stiffer punishment for men and officers involved in this unwholesome and reckless killings masquerading it as accidental discharge. The disciplinary unit of the police force in synergy with the judiciary should introduce life imprisonment or dead by hanging on any officer that violates repeats this eyesore. However, this very ASP should be set as an example for others to take caution.

The Nigeria Police Force needs a complete overhaul in terms of effective training of officers especially dealing with their psychology and emotions while on duty. The federal government must improve welfarism for the security agents to curb the habit of the saying “ a hungry man is an angry man.”