A high court in Lagos, Nigeria has sentenced police officer Drambi Vandi to death for the fatal shooting of a pregnant lawyer, Omobolanle Raheem, on Christmas day.
On December 25, 2022, police officers from the Ajiwe police station in Ajah, Lagos ordered the car conveying Raheem and her family as they returned from Christmas service to stop. One of the officers who was later identified as Drambi Vandi, an assistant superintendent of police, shot at the car and killed the lawyer. The police officers fled the scene immediately after the shooting.
Raheem’s murder sparked outrage over police brutality in Nigeria. Her fatal shooting was one of several recent incidents of police brutality that have been recorded in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria. Barely three weeks before Raheem’s murder, 31-year-old Gafaru Buraimoh was shot dead by police officers from the same station in Lagos. A study conducted by The Cable found that about 91 other Nigerians have been killed by police officers in the past year.
Amnesty International condemned Raheem’s murder in a post on X (formerly Twitter):
Amnesty International strongly condemns the killing of Mrs. Omobolanle Raheem by a police officer on Christmas day at Ajiwe Ajah #Lagos. It is horrifying that police officers who are meant to protect lives take it with impunity. #EndSARS #Nigeria pic.twitter.com/ZgzH39lDc4
— Amnesty International Nigeria (@AmnestyNigeria) December 26, 2022
On December 29, 2022, a coalition of over 223 women organizations under the aegis of Womanifesto demanded justice for Raheem. The convener of Womanifesto and Executive Director of Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, raised the issue in a statement titled, ‘Justice for Omobolanle Raheem murdered by ASP Drambi Vandi!’
“We demand the speedy prosecution of Drambi Vandi to the full extent of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2015 and other applicable laws. The family and friends of the deceased Omobolanle Raheem deserve justice and compensation for their loss and trauma,” they stated.
While mourning the lawyer’s death, Nigerians on social media and human rights activists also expressed their displeasure on X (formerly Twitter), with many calling on the police to take action against officers of the Ajiwe police station. A human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, described the incident as a recurring pattern while demanding justice for the victim. In an X post, he said:
This unfortunate incident is not unprecedented. The police have shown consistent contempt and hatred to lawyers, over the years. The legal profession must rise in unison to avert this perilous precedent. There must be consequences for impunity.
— FESTUS OGUN (@mrfestusogun) December 26, 2022
Nigerian lawyers from the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), led by NBA’s President Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, joined the prosecution of the police officer as part of its efforts towards securing swift and effective justice for the family of the deceased.
The NBA sought payment of damages not less than 5 billion naira (about USD 12,000) in addition.
On December 30, 2022, the Attorney-General of Lagos state, Moyosore Onigbanjo, filed a one-count charge against Vandi over Raheem’s murder. The magistrate granted the request to remand the defendant at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre until January 30, 2023.
The court found Vandi guilty of murder and sentenced him to death by hanging on October 9, 2023, after the deceased’s husband, sister, police armorer, pathologist, and seven others testified against him.