Following the alleged shooting of a 57-year-old estate agent, Akeem Rabiu, by officers attached to the Itire Police Station on October 20, 2018, the family of the victim has written the Lagos State Commissioner of Police to protest the development and draw attention to the fact that Akeem is currently paralysed at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State.
When our reporters visited the UCH on Friday, Akeem, a father of four, was found looking pale and writhing in pains as his medical reports indicated that “he might not be able to walk again with his two legs as a result of the gunshot.”
The medical officers on duty told our correspondent that Akeem was now defecating on himself at will as he could no longer walk.
Worried by security reports that policemen were attempting to retrieve the bullet extracted from the victim’s body by neurosurgeons at the UCH, Akeem, in a letter dated January 4, 2019, appealed to the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee of the hospital thus, “I kindly write to inform the hospital management, your good offices and the team in charge of my care not to release the bullet, or any substance removed from my body during surgery to anybody or agency without my consent.”
A petition by the counsel for the victim, Oyewole Lasisi, entitled: ‘Petition against unlawful shooting of Mr Akeem Rabiu Sanni by men and officers of the Itire Police Station, Surulere, Lagos’, claimed that the victim was on his way home from his office on October 20, 2018, when around 7.50pm on Ramoni Street, off Lawanson Road, Itire, Lagos, he was shot in the back by policemen from the Itire Police Station led by the Divisional Police Officer.
The lawyer claimed that the most worrisome aspect of the incident was that Akeem was not involved in any struggle with anybody or in any chaotic situation that might have warranted the unlawful shooting, adding that he was also not running away from the scene of crime and neither was he resisting arrest by the police.
The lawyer argued that “in clear terms, the police are negligent in their conduct of shooting an innocent citizen and are therefore liable both morally and legally.”
In the medical report made available to our correspondent by the family, it was gathered that after Akeem was shot, the police officers, after one of them identified the victim as a renowned estate agent, called on the others and they took him to the Aishat Specialist Hospital, Mushin, where the police gave the family N10,000 to supplement the N130,000 bill for the procurement of two pints of blood and other immediate medical care to stabilise him before he was referred to a teaching hospital.
The victim’s wife, Oluseyi Rabiu, said since the incident, life had become so unbearable for her and her children, because Akeem was the family’s breadwinner.
“We have since withdrawn the kids from school and the future looks very uncertain. We want the Inspector-General of Police, the Police Service Commission and the National Human Rights Commission to intervene in this case. We have spent close to N2m and we are still here at the UCH with no hope of getting financial assistance from anywhere,” she stated.
The officer accused of firing the shot, who is also the DPO of the station, Sulaimon Kabiru, however, said that he was not responsible for the shooting.
He said, “I am not the one who shot him. He has written a petition to the Commissioner of Police and the command has set up an enquiry team to look into it. The community members, where the incident took place, have also written what they know about it.
“So, as the DPO of a place, if cultists engage themselves in a fight and they call me and I went there to rescue him, is that a crime? On the day in question, I didn’t carry a gun. And on that same issue, somebody was arrested with a gun. He (Akeem) was not the only one who was shot; another person was also shot.
“They (Akeem’s family) are only claiming that what was extracted from his body was not a pellet but a bullet, and therefore, it must be that of the police. Is it only the police that are firing shots from guns in Nigeria today? That’s what happened and the family has written a petition to the police. The police will answer them.”
When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, who noted that the command had commenced an investigation into the allegation, said the victim’s lawyer was the one frustrating the matter.
He said, “The Commissioner of Police, in his usual manner, directed that the case be investigated by the X Squad unit of the Lagos State Command and the team of investigators assigned to the case has commenced investigation; the bullet lodged in the body of the victim was extracted at the University Teaching Hospital, Ibadan, by doctors, who operated on him.
“The hospital has informed us that it has extracted the bullet and is ready to hand it over to us but the lawyer to the victim, who we have called on several occasions to join us at the hospital to receive the bullet, is the one frustrating the probe.
“We want him to observe the process to ensure that we are transparent in the investigation, but he has refused to come and we are still hoping that he will come; and as soon as he comes, the next line of action is for us to take the bullet to the ballistics section of the police at Alagbon so that they will look at the extracted bullet and see if it matches that of the police or if it was fired from the officer’s gun.
“We are at the end of the investigation; it is just for us to match the bullet and conclude the investigation. When the ballistician finishes with his analysis, the IPO will come up with a report and recommendations, and the CP and the review officers will look at them and take appropriate action.
“The CP does not tolerate indiscipline; if the officer is indicted by the investigation, the CP will take appropriate steps to discipline him according to the police regulations.”
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