Civil society organisations and prominent Nigerians have condemned the killing of a Nigerian, Kolade Johnson, in Lagos and demanded prosecution of the police officers involved in the incident.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Johnson was killed at a football viewing centre in Lagos Sunday evening.
He was hit by a stray bullet when police officers tried to arrest another man.
Many Nigerians have used the #EndSARS social media hashtag as a public outcry continued over the incident.
The police said they have arrested the officers involved in the killing. They, however, said the officers belong to the Anti Cultism unit and not SARS.
Amnesty International in a statement signed by its Nigeria Director, Osai Ojigho, on Monday, decried the killing and demanded the prosecution of the killers in a regular civil court.
“The unlawful killing must be impartially and thoroughly investigated, with any officers suspected of criminal responsibility for wrongdoing brought to justice in a fair trial before an ordinary civilian court. It is shameful that more than two years since Amnesty International highlighted crimes under international law and human rights violations by SARS, these shocking incidents continue unabated.”
“All subsequent government pledges to reform SARS, including one by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in August last year, have amounted to nothing.”
Amnesty International had investigated the activities of SARS over the past three years.
In the report of one of the investigations in September 2016, titled: “Nigeria: You Have Signed Your Death Warrant”, stated how police officers maltreat suspects to force them to admit to what they did not do.
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) also commented on the incident through a statement by its Director, Musa Rafsanjani.
It said: “We are worried on the ruthless and ill-thought response by the Police in addressing civil cases, just as we bemoan needless brutalities leading to the untimely death and dehumanization of innocent citizens and arrogant display of lawlessness by the institution.
“It is worrisome that poor intelligence gathering, inefficiency, and inadequate response capacity by the security forces have largely paved way for pervasive criminal activities and other social vices that remain unaddressed despite ceaseless public outcries.
“We are convinced that immediate passage of the awaiting Police Reform Bill by the National Assembly has become paramount to restore sanity and sanctity in the activities of the Police; and legitimately constrain and penalize Police operatives in the country against such undemocratic decision that to pull their guns while apprehending defenceless offenders of law or push citizens into custodial black holes without proper procedures,” Mr. Rafsanjani said.
Nigerian music star and politician, Bankole Wellington, in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the victim was the only son of a widow.
“Kolade is not the first innocent victim of reckless behaviour by SARS operatives, and he will almost certainly not be the last. It is sickening, frustrating, and unfair. We are tired of hearing about victims of police brutality, but never hearing about the criminal, reckless police officers being brought to justice.
“We are tired of screaming and tweeting #ENDSARS while our innocent young people are being extorted, bullied, maimed and killed by the very same officers who are meant to protect them. And we are tired of our leaders remaining silent, incident after incident.
“We will not let this go. Kolade was innocent and did not deserve to die. Kolade could have been any one of us. Please show us that you care about us. Please”, he said in the letter.
However, on Tuesday, the presidency in a tweet via its official handle expressed displeasure with the killing.
“Deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kolade Johnson, a victim of the March 31 fatal shooting in Lagos. @PoliceNG have assured that the Team suspected of involvement in the shooting have been apprehended & are undergoing disciplinary procedure. Updates will be provided,” the tweet read.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, also said the leadership of the Senate is committed to the police reform bill.
“My heartfelt prayers are with the family and friends of Kolade Johnson, the young football fan who was allegedly killed by men of the Nigerian Police in Mangoro/Onipetesi community in Lagos.
“Issues like the senseless killings, assault, and extortion of everyday Nigerians by some ‘bad apples’ in the Police Force is what prompted @NGRSenate to introduce and fast-track the progression of the #PoliceReformBill”, he tweeted. “I have also been in contact with the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs and I am pleased to announce that the Report of the #PoliceReformBill will be laid by next week Tuesday.
“Make no mistake, the 8th Senate remains committed to the passage of the #PoliceReformBill to ensure that our Police Force is more efficient and responsive to the needs of all Nigerians.”
As at the time of filing this report, many Nigerians on social media were still calling for justice on the incident.