After two adjournments, the judicial inquiry to determine the cause of death of Ademola Aderinto, who was allegedly shot by a police officer during the anti-fuel subsidy protests, began at the Ikeja Magistrate Court on Wednesday with the police calling their first witness.
The inquest was initiated by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and Access to Justice, a human rights group, following the death of Mr. Aderinto, 27.
After Olumide Alagbe, a police inspector, entered the witness box to narrate the January 9th incident at Ogba, Lagos, which also led to four others sustaining gunshot wounds; the inquest was adjourned to April 11th.
Testifying from the written statement of Segun Fabunmi, the Divisional Police Officer who allegedly shot the deceased and who is still in police custody at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti; Mr. Alagbe said that the deceased was “struggling arms with the police.”
“In the statement, he (Mr. Fabunmi) said that he received a distress call from the control room that some hoodlums were attacking and dispossessing innocent citizens of the country.
“That when he got there, the hoodlums numbering 200 attacked them, throwing bottles, stones.
“In the struggling, the trigger went off,” said Mr. Alagbe.
Mr. Alagbe maintained that the bullet which killed Mr. Aderinto penetrated his right thigh during the struggle; contrary to the postmortem report from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital which stated that the bullet penetrated through the deceased’s back.
‘A good start’
While addressing journalists after the sitting, Yinka Farounbi, counsel to the NBA, described the commencement of the case “as a very good start.”
“We are happy that the police has revealed their witness,” said Mr. Farounbi, Ikeja NBA’s first vice chairman.
“They have taken the evidence from the police officer from Panti and by the next adjourned date, there will be cross examination of the witness,” he added.
Speaking in the same vein, Leonard Dibia, of Access to Justice, noted that the documents tendered by the police would be examined at the next sitting, adding that the inquest would be concluded early.
“There is just one life that was lost and so the physical evidence is really narrowed down to about two or three persons, most importantly, eye witness accounts,” said Mr. Dibia.
Cyril Ejiofor, the counsel representing the Commissioner of Police, said that the police have their witnesses and would call them as the case progresses.
“All I can tell you now is that the coroner for that matter has opened,” said Mr. Ejiofor.