Why we’re not prosecuting woman whose ‘false alarm’ led to man’s death

Nigerian Police on patrol
Nigerian Police

The Nigerian police have explained why they are not prosecuting Bolanle Muhammed, a woman who raised a false alarm that made thugs kill Olamide Omolegbe, whom she had wrongly accused of stealing a cell phone.

The police said they are acting on an ‘advice’ from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), which asked it not to go ahead with the prosecution of Mrs Muhammed.

PREMIUM TIMES has not been able to verify the claim despite several attempts to get the DPP’s office to comment.

Background

PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported how the 22-year-old victim was killed and his body thrown into the lagoon at Badore-Ajah by hoodlums reportedly led by Mrs Muhammad.

After the report, the police officer in charge of the matter, who simply identified himself as Inspector Sunday at Lagbasa Police Division, told PREMIUM TIMES that “proper investigation would be carried out.”

“We have arrested the woman who accused the victim and some thugs that carried out the act. Some of them are still at large but we will definitely arrest others and carry out proper investigation.”

Days after the arrest, PREMIUM TIMES exposed how the police released Mrs Muhammad.

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“The woman did not participate in the killing, so, you can’t treat her as a suspect. Her son is the suspect. The woman is being used as a witness to help us,” Bala Elkana, Lagos Police spokesperson said then.

The police also reportedly refused to grant the victim’s father, Francis Omolegbe’s request for the preliminary investigation report in respect to the case.

Dramatic turnaround

After PREMIUM TIMES report, Mr Elkana called our correspondent back to disclose that the woman has been added as the ‘prime suspect’ in the killing.

“The mother of the boy at large has also been detained with the four others for questioning now to answer some questions.

“So, she is also part of the suspects we’re looking at now because of some roles we learned she played,” he told our correspondent.

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The police also said they would update the public as events unfold.

The police later in a statement released the names of the five suspects.

“The deceased person was accused of stealing a phone by one Bolanle Muhammed in her soft drink shop at Badore, Ajah.

“The false alarm she raised led to the beating and killing of the victim by the suspects: Wasiu Wahab, Ramon Ibrahim, Junior Adebayo and Yusuf Adegbite,” the statement read.

More drama

PREMIUM TIMES findings revealed how the police failed to arrest Mrs Muhammad alongside others.

Our sources in the community, who spoke under anonymity because of fear of being attacked, told our correspondent that the woman returned to Badore-Ajah “carrying out her day to day activities.”

It was alleged that her release was facilitated by traditional leaders in the community who have threatened the deceased family against pushing ahead with the case.

PREMIUM TIMES tried to verify these claims.

The traditional head, Baale Jikoji, failed to respond to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries on the matter.

When contacted, a police source at the state CID Panti, who did not want his name on print because of victimisation said “authority” asked them to release the woman.

“The matter was brought from Langbasa Police Division. They arrested five suspects. Four male and one female. But later, the authority asked us to release the female that she did not partake in the killing of the guy,” our source said. “We charged the other four persons to Ebute Meta magistrate court and they were remanded.”

The other four were arraigned on July 22.

‘Why we let suspect go’

Meanwhile, Mr Elkana told PREMIUM TIMES why the police released the woman from their list of suspects.

“The woman was not charged because that is the advice of the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution). Crime cases are offences against the state,” the police spokesperson explained. “Police forward the case to them to know whether we have evidences to prosecute the case and who and who to be charged. So DPP said all those boys (suspects) be charged as they are all culpable except the woman.”

He explained further: “There’s no evidence to link her with the murder case. (That) she raised (false) alarm is not enough to say she killed. So, even if you take her to court, she will be discharged. That’s what the advice says.”

Efforts by this newspaper to verify the claim by the police spokesperson at the office of the DPP has proven unsuccessful.

The reporter who has visited the Minstry of Justice several times in the last four days could not get the DPP to comment. He refused to respond to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries.

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