Bolanle Raheem: Tears in heaven!
“She died with her glory. She left a five-year-old daughter behind. And they took her away with the unborn twins” – Mother of the victim, speaking amidst tears.
“While police officers who blatantly shaft the common people believe that they are God, they are the devil to those that they wrong.” – Steven Magee.
My dear reader, I am in the deepest of pains as I write this piece. The recent crude, cruel and conscienceless killing of a fellow Nigerian citizen; a defenceless and innocent female lawyer, Mrs. Bolanle Raheem by an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) known as Drambi Vandi attached to the Ajah Division of Lagos State on Christmas Day harms us all, like it or not!
It could have been anyone of us. That is the bitter reality. In fact, that the sad and clearly avoidable tragedy took place on Christmas Day, when billions of the Christian faithful across the world were celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, portends grave danger to the country called Nigeria. Lest we forget, Jesus was the only begotten son of God, who sacrificed His blameless blood on the Cross of Calvary. He did so to redeem us all, as an atonement for the sins of mankind.
The killing, therefore, presages the gathering of dark clouds over the country, more so as her beautiful life was suddenly cut short while carrying twins in her womb! By the time we add the lists of the voiceless victims of the EndSARS saga of 20-10-2020 and of course, several others who fell at the hands of the trigger-happy police officers across the country, the import might be a little bit clearer. Indeed, the voices of their blood are crying out to heaven for justice, just like that of Abel did at the hand of his brutal brother, Cain!
According to the victim’s mother who expressed utter sadness over the death of her pregnant daughter, described as her “first child,” she used to hawk oranges to ensure that her children, including the deceased got quality education. She said so while speaking with the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abiodun when he was on a condolence visit.
Though the alleged perpetrator of pure evil has been detained, the unfolding scenario triggers several burning and salient questions. Was this the first time police brutality was being unleashed on harmless Nigerians? “No”! Has adequate and timely justice been meted out to the masterminds behind the killing spree? “No”! Was the public made to know the outcome of the promised punishments for the criminals? The answer is sadly another haunting “No”!
For instance, in September 2021, a young girl by the name Monsurat Ojuade, who had just turned 18, was killed by a police officer, who shot her through the gate in Lagos, without committing any offence! According to the Nigeria Director of Amnesty International, Osai Ojigho, “Evidence gathered by Amnesty International paints a damning picture of ruthless excessive force by Nigerian security forces. These include physical abuse, secret detentions, extortion, theft, and extrajudicial executions of suspects.” You can read that again.
The list of police brutality cases in Nigeria is such that not less than 115 people were killed by security forces in Nigeria’s Southeast between March and June 2021, as reported. That was after the global condemnation of the killings of unarmed citizens during the EndSARS tragedy.
Here, sad to say, we live in a jungle where might is right! It is one country where moral depravity has descended to its lowest ebb such that many of the so called self-confessed killers, kidnap kingpins, or terrorists have been ‘forgiven’ by the Federal Government and not only fed but trained from our common purse! How can you explain that insulting policy that places the lives of the killers above that of their unarmed victims, on the moral ground and in any sane society?
One should, therefore, not be surprised because in the list of ‘The Most Dangerous Animals found in the World’ as compiled by Daniel Jameson and Ali Wunderman, man came first! That is above other blood-suckers, including the Cape Buffalo in Kenya, the saw-scaled viper in India, the puffer fish in Japan and the stonefish in the Pacific Ocean!
As the authors rightly asked: “Are you surprised? After all, we’re animals too and since we’ve been killing each other for 10,000 years, with the total deaths from war alone estimated at between 150 million and 1 billion (and that was a decade ago), it’s a no-brainer that we top the list.”
Unfortunately, some of such vampire bats pretending to be human beings have found their way into the Nigerian political and security landscapes. As one has warned through my opinion essay of October 30, 2020, titled: “Who bloodied our beautiful banner?”: Governments, at the state and federal levels must do all within their powers to ensure that all the perpetrators of the recent heinous crimes against humanity, who bloodied our beautiful banner, are brought to justice. There can be no peace, without justice and the world is watching us. But has that been done? I have my doubts.
After the usual condemnation of the evil acts by the powers that be, more like a rhetoric, many of the acts of brutality against fellow human beings suffer the Doppler’s Effect of the initial outcry that dies down as worse criminal acts soon take over. But we cannot trudge on along this twisted path of injustice. For, in the words of Colin Kaepernick, “There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specifically is police brutality.”
Indeed, as also reflected in another of my essays with the title: ‘Ending the SARS Mentality’ written on October 9, 2020, the fact that the police, with the constitutional mandate to protect the precious lives and property of the citizens has been turned against the freedom of association and peace of the citizenry is worrisome and reprehensible. It is a throw-back to the pre-colonial era of the oppressive mentality of using the then members of the police force to brow-beat, cow and run roughshod over the wishes of the people.
One cannot but share in the thought of Al Sharpton who stated that: “We’re not anti-police but we’re anti-police brutality.” Looking at the Nigerian situation, it is difficult to lay blames of the killings at the doorstep of the victims because as Mike Colter rightly puts it: “There’s no book to figure out how not to become a victim of police brutality.” And as John Burns noted: “I am depressed rather at the wave of brutality sweeping over the country.”
Concerning the recent crude and heart-rending killing of Bolanle Raheem, there are tears in heaven, as the English guitarist, singer and songwriter Eric Clapton sang, in memory of his four-year-old late son, Conor in 1991 and only justice and a speedy one at that will dry it!