Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan of the Gbagada division of the Lagos State Police Command’s Special Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) has been dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force.
Olalekan and Sergeant Godwin Orji had been named as the primary suspects in the fatal shooting of Kolade Johnson, a 36-year-old father of one who was killed on Sunday, March 31, 2019 when officers of the unit, led by Olalekan, were attempting to arrest another man because of his dreadlocks in the Mangoro area of the state.
According to a statement by the spokesperson of the Lagos Command, Bala Elkana, an Orderly Room Trial that commenced on Monday, April 1, found Olalekan guilty of Johnson’s fatal shooting and was dismissed from the Force during a judgement read on Thursday, April 4.
Olalekan and Orji were tried on three charges including discreditable conduct, and unlawful and unnecessary exercise of authority. Five witnesses testified at the trial.
“At the conclusion of the trial, the first defaulter, Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan, was found guilty of discreditable conduct by acting in a manner prejudicial to discipline and unbecoming of members of the force by shooting and killing Kolade Johnson; Unlawful and Unnecessary exercise of authority by using unnecessary violence, by using AK 47 rifle on the deceased in total neglect to the provisions of Force Order 237 on the use of Firearms,” Elkana disclosed.
Even though Orji was also present at the scene of the shooting, the Adjudicating Officer, CSP Indyar Apev, found the sergeant not guilty as there was no evidence that connected him to the shooting that took Johnson’s life.
“He (Orji) was therefore found not guilty and discharged and acquitted,” Elkana said.
Olalekan has now been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, for further investigation after which a criminal trial is expected to commence.
Lagos CP, President Buhari vow justice for Johnson
When he paid a condolence visit to the family of the deceased on Tuesday, April 2, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Zubairu Muazu,reassured the family that those responsible for Johnson’s death will face justice.
President Muhammadu Buhari also promised on Wednesday, April 3 to ensure that the police officers are appropriately punishedfor their action.
“Any officer of the law enforcement agencies or any other government functionary caught in this act will certainly be visited with the full weight of the law,” the president said.
“I only shot once”, officer explains how Johnson was killed
When he was paraded to the media on Tuesday, Inspector Olalekan said he didn’t intend to shoot the deceased.
According to him, he only shot once in the air after his team was mobbed while trying to arrest a suspected cultist.
He said, “We heard a distress call that we should move to Mangoro. So, on getting there, we saw a group of guys smoking Indian hemp. We thought they’re cultists and effected an arrest there.
“Suddenly, they mobbed us, me and my boys. So, in terms of escaping them, I fired up.
“I didn’t know how it got to meet the guy in question that was shot dead, I don’t know. I only fired one up.”
Eyewitnesses contradict Olalekan’s story
Contrary to Olalekan’s version of events, an eyewitness, identified as Mr Nana, who was with Johnson when he was shot, said Olalekan trained his gun on them.
“Kolade stood right beside me, he didn’t talk. I was the one that spoke. Next thing I saw was he pointed a gun at us and shot twice,” he said.
Nana said he and Kolade left the relaxation spot where they were watching an English Premier League game on Sunday after hearing pleas for help outside.
They discovered that the officers were trying to arrest Ismail Folorunsho, a young man who appeared to have been targeted for arrest because of his dreadlocks, a common practice by the anti-cultism unit.
Folorunsho told Channels Television that he was trying to board a bus when an officer came out of nowhere to arrest him.
He said attempts to question the officers about why he was being arrested and where he was being taken to led to him being assaulted.
The struggle that ensued was what drew Nana and Johnson to where the fatal shooting eventually happened.
Nigerians demand comprehensive Police reform
Johnson’s killing has led to widespread calls for the implementation of meaningful police reform to curb brutality unleashed on helpless citizens.
Many protests are already scheduled to take place across the country on Friday, April 5 to enforce the demands.
The protests primarily target the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS), another notorious unit whose streak of misconducts has made the face of Police brutality in the country.
Senate President Bukola Saraki revealed on Monday that a report on the Police Reform Bill will be laid before the upper legislative chamber on Tuesday, April 9. The bill passed second reading in the Senate in July 2018.