The tragic death of lawyer Bolanle Raheem allegedly at the hands of a policeman named Drambi Vandi on Christmas Day has sparked a noticeable surge in extrajudicial killings in Nigeria.
This has led to concerns that individuals dressed in uniforms resembling those of law enforcement, including suspected soldiers, are now involved in these acts of violence.
The positions of some analysts post-EndSARS period that extrajudicial killing is systemic within the armed forces, and not just limited to the police, now seem justified, as suspected men in military uniform have allegedly perpetuated the killing of innocent citizens in recent times.
Lagos, a state that was the hotbed of mass protests against police brutality in 2020, has become the new “war zone” for the “soldiers.”
While many residents are still calling for justice three years after the alleged killing of protesters in Lekki by soldiers, suspected killer-soldiers have gone on the prowl allegedly killing innocent citizens.
For Senator Solomon Adeola and his associates, the murder of the lawmaker’s aide, Adeniyi Sanni, in the early hours of August 5, 2023, allegedly by soldiers cannot be allowed to go unpunished.
The senator representing Ogun West, through his Media Adviser, Kayode Odunaro, had said that late Sanni was stopped by security agents at a checkpoint in Ojodu, on his way to his home in Isheri, Lagos, and he was asked to provide the documents of the car he was driving, which he did through his wife who sent all the documents to his phone via WhatsApp.
According to the senator, it was later learnt that passersby through the next-of-kin phone number on Sanni’s driver’s licence, notified the family that his body was dumped around the Toyota Bus Stop in Oshodi, Lagos with gunshot wounds.
Senator Adeola had since claimed that his aide “was killed by a syndicate of soldiers operating under the newly-deployed Commander of 9 Brigade, Ikeja Cantonment of the Nigeria Army, Brigadier General Nsikan Edet, through the mounting of checkpoints and robbing of lone occupants of cars.”
On August 17, a driver, identified simply as Lawal, was killed by suspected soldiers while on his way to deliver a vehicle to its owner in Abuja.
His friend who was said to be driving ahead of him was said to have witnessed the incident and reported it to the police.
The said soldiers allegedly told Lawal that they were taking him to their barracks only to move him to Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos, where they shot him dead and threw his body into a bush.
The acting Deputy Director of Army Public Relations, 81 Division NA, Lt. Col Olabisi Ayeni, said the army was investigating the matter.
“In as much as information into the allegation is still scanty at the moment, being a responsible organisation, Headquarters 81 Division Nigerian Army considers it appropriate to bring the occurrence to public notice and the steps taken to identify the alleged persons in military uniform, believed to be soldiers and bring them to justice if truly they are serving soldiers.
“The Division is currently investigating in conjunction with the Nigerian Police, Lagos State Command, to unravel the identity of the alleged suspects and the circumstances surrounding the alleged unfortunate incident. At the end of the investigation, if the suspects are identified as serving soldiers, they will be made to face the full wrath of both military and civil laws,” Ayeni said in a statement on August 20.
In June, a commercial driver, Bolaji Sunday, was hospitalised after two yet-to-be-identified soldiers allegedly shot him for parking his vehicle in front of the Oriental Transport Company around Magboro Bus Stop. He fell into a gutter along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where he was bleeding profusely. The Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, Omolola Odutola, confirmed the report to our correspondent, saying the suspected soldiers were on the run. The Army also said it was probing the matter.
“I thank God, I am faring well,” Bolaji, who narrowly survived death, told The PUNCH on Wednesday when he was asked about his health.
Contacted on Wednesday for a reaction and an update on the investigation into the recent killings linked to suspected soldiers, the spokesperson for the 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Lt. Col. Ayeni, simply said, “Investigation is ongoing.”
The spokesperson for the Headquarters of the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, when asked for a reaction to the reports linking Army officers to killings, only shared the earlier released statement of Ayeni with our correspondent, which was silent about the killing of Sanni, linked to suspected soldiers.
Source: The PUNCH