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Police Witness Tells Court How ASP Vandi Murdered Raheem
•Never again will matters like this be swept under carpet, Says NBA president
A prosecution witness, Inspector, Matthew Ahmen, yesterday told a Lagos State High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square how his team leader, ASP Drambi Vandi, allegedly killed female lawyer Bolanle Raheem while enforcing a stop-and-search in Ajah area of Lagos State.
The witness in his testimony before Justice Ibironke Harrison, stated that he was enlisted into the Police Force in 2001.
According to him, during the Stop-and-Search exercise, Vandi who was the team leader was behind while he was in the middle, and another colleague, Inspector Dimini, was in the front when the incident occurred.
According to him, when Dimini saw a car coming, he flagged it down but the car refused to stop, and when the car got to where he was standing, he also flagged the car down, but again the car did not stop.
He said, “The next thing I heard was a gunshot and I looked back to see what was happening and I saw that a windscreen was falling. The next thing I saw again was a dark woman who jumped down from the vehicle and I heard her saying that ‘Oga you have killed my sister. The woman held him (Vandi) and before I and Dimini could get to them, they had entered the car, locked it, and left.”
The witness said that the Divisional Police Officer at Ajah police station had earlier addressed them that morning saying that as they go out, their duty was to protect life and property.
He said the DPO, told them that on no account should anyone use firearm, except someone was in danger or their lives was being threatened.
The witness who said he was transferred from Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to Lagos in 2018, and was then transferred in April 2019, to Ajah Police Division, stated that they resumed duty at Ajah under bridge at 9am.
Ahmen stated that he and his other colleague, Dimini went back to the station after the car had left with the defendant.
He said, “Vandi entered the same vehicle and they drove him away, we did not know where they went to. While we were at the station, we saw that the DPO brought ASP Vandi to the station with the police patrol vehicle.”
When asked the time the incident occurred, he said that it was around 1pm, and that the car the deceased was driving was a Toyota car that had no plate number.
Asked if he could identify the car, and how many people were in the car, he said, “Yes, I know the car, I saw people in the car, but I don’t know how many people were in the car because the car did not stop.”
The witness told the court that there was no threat to the life of any of the Police officers before and during the incident.
He said “After we got to the office the DPO, asked us to make statement and the three of bus wrote our statements and the next day on December 26, we were moved to the State Command and when we got there, the Assistant Commissioner of Police interviewed us and asked the three of us to make statement, which we did, that’s all what I know.”
Asked during cross examination by the defence counsel Adetokunbo Oduntola, that he said he heard some sound during his testimony, the witness said, “I said I heard gun shot in my statement.”
Asked if the gun shot he heard was in front, he said it was behind.
Earlier the Defendant was arraigned on a one-count charge of murder preferred against him by the Lagos state government.
He was accused of killing a seven month pregnant lawyer, Omobolanle Raheem on December 25, 2022.
However, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.
Consequently, the AG, told the court that he had two witnesses in court and they were ready for trial.
Trial commenced immediately and inspector Ahmen was called as the first prosecution witness.
Vandi, attached to the Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah, Lagos State, allegedly shot Raheem while she was returning from an outing with her family members on Christmas Day.
He was arrested and brought before Chief Magistrate Adeola Adedayo of the Yaba Magistrate court on December 30, 2022, a day after the Police Service Commission approved his suspension.
At about 8: 48am, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, and some of his members as well as the chairman of the Lagos Island NBA branch stomped the court for the arraignment of Vandi.
When the case was called at 9:15am, but the prosecution counsel Onigbajo and the defence counsel were not around which made the court to stand down the case.
Again the case was stood down the second time after the AG, arrived and apologised for coming late and also informed the court that the defence counsel was on his way to court.
He said,” I apologised for coming late, I am under the weather and I just called the defence counsel who is on his way.”
The case was called for the third time after Oduntola, announced his appearance and apologised for the delay.
Oduntola however told the court that he had been served the information by the DPP, but that some of the documents served on him were not clear.
He said,” I will be asking for an adjournment in view of the fact that I was just briefed on Saturday and all the documents are not in my possession.
“Our mind was actually that the matter was for tomorrow until I got an urgent call and I had to turn back from Surulere after I had left the island.”
However, Justice Harrison, did not grant the prayer for adjournment.
Speaking with journalists after the proceedings, Maikyau, said he could not make any comment about the proceedings in court as the matter was subjudiced.
Maikyau said: “We are here to demonstrate our commitment to pursue this matter to its logical conclusion and that’s what we would do and not only for Bolanle who happens to be our colleague but to anyone who suffers as a result of the excesses of law enforcement agencies.
“It is a responsibility of the NBA, to look after every Nigerian and that is the commitment we are given and that is why we are here, we continue to do that.
“Never again will matters like this be swept under the carpet, under our watch, we would not let it happen.”
The matter was adjourned till January 25th and 26th, for continuation of trial.