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Lagos: Opposition party decries extra judicial killings

Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) has asked the Lagos State Government to institute an independent panel of enquiry, and ensure the Commissioner of Police respects the rights of 24 people arrested over the disturbance that broke out in the Egbeda area of Lagos after police shot dead a commercial bus driver.

The party in a statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, equally urged the Lagos State Government to ensure the police did not infringe on the detainees’ rights, by endless detention or torturing.

In the words of DPA: “The wasting of Mr. Kazeem further highlights the culture of impunity that police and other uniformed personnel unleash on the Lagos public. Because they have the monopoly of arrest and detention, the police think they can hurt people and arrest them to boot.

But in the Kazeem Episode, the police stand accused. And they cannot to be Judge in their own cause; it is wrong for them to stand as the Accused, the Judge, the Prosecutor and the detaining authority all at once. The Police Commissioner must wade into this matter and the state must order an independent enquiry. The Commissioner should immediately warn his men to treat those arrested with dignity.”

Quoting eye witnesses, DPA reported that the police went from room to room picking up residents after area boys launched a reprisal attack on a police team that brazenly killed a “Danfo” driver, identified as Mr. Kazeem. Residents said the gun-happy policeman was attacked and injured by angry area boys that confronted the men in uniform.

The party demanded that Lagos State must get the police to compensate the family of the slain driver, and the prosecution of all the policemen involved in the shooting incident. It said fellow drivers said his wife delivered a new baby boy last month.

Eye witnesses in the area said Mr. Kazeem was evading a roadblock mounted by extortionist policemen when they pursued his bus and forced it to a halt at Vulcaniser Bus Stop by ramming it from behind. They descended on him with blows and gun-butts. A cop in the team then walked up to Kazeem sitting behind the steering and shot him in the head.

“What happened that evening was against all known police rules of engagement. That it led to a breach of the peace is unjustified but understandable. The real culprits are those policemen, and they must be fished out and prosecuted,” DPA demanded.

In addition, DPA said: ”The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, must order the release of those indiscriminately arrested. Police invaded the area and simply shot their way into people’s room to make arrests hours after the irate area boys had disappeared. They invaded the privacy of people’s homes and hoisted defenceless residents into detention.”

According to the party, residents complained that police in the area showed more interest in mounting roadblocks to extort money from motorists than for security, and that their slackness largely informed the notable killings in the area, including those of three journalists –Bayo Ohu, Abayomi Ogundeji and Edoh Ugbagwu.

DPA recalled that last year, a policeman guarding a bank in Akowonjo area in Alimosho Council had brazenly shot dead a man, engaged in a public disagreement with another man. The killing led angry spectators to attack the commercial bank.

The party complained that police operating within the Alimosho Local Government had formed the unhealthy habit of mounting roadblocks for extorting money from motorists.