Murder: Court remands 4 police officers in Lagos as 2 plead not guilty

…the policemen were arraigned on two counts of murder

Four police inspectors were on Friday arraigned before a Yaba Magistrates’ Court by the Lagos State Police Command over the alleged murder of a resident, Buraimoh Gafar.

The four policemen, Inspector Johnson Imeh, Inspector Effiong Edet, Inspector Harrison Ike, and Inspector Etederhi Obaseki, were arraigned before Magistrate A.O. Salawu on two counts of murder.

The policemen, attached to the Ajah Police Divisional Headquarters, were on a patrol and visited Amadon Estate.

Suspected hoodlums in the community were said to have fled on sighting the cops as one of them was arrested.

While trying to force the suspect into their van, the hoodlums reportedly regrouped to free their colleague.

Two of the defendants were said to have fired shots.

The deceased’s sister, Folashade Ibrahim, and an eyewitness, Adebayo Olatunji, later reported to the police that a stray bullet hit Gafar while he was coming out of Skymall Shopping Plaza, where he went to watch a football match.

The police prosecutor, Haruna Magaji, while holding brief for Godwin Oriabure, told the court that the policemen committed the offence on December 6, 2022.

Magaji said Imeh and Edet confessed to firing their AK-47 riffles during the incident.

The charge read in part, “ That you, Johnson Imeh, Effiong Edet, Etederhi Obaseki and Harrison Ike, on December 6, 2022, at Happyland Estate, Sangotedo, Ajah, Lagos State, in the Lagos Magisterial District, while on duty as a member of the Nigeria Police Force on surveillance duty, did conspire among yourselves to commit felony, to wit, murder, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 233 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, Nigeria, 2015.”

Counsel for the second defendant, Samuel Sodipo, pleaded with the court to grant him bail in liberal terms, saying the policemen had been in custody for 51 days.

Also, one of the defendants, Ike, told the court that he was exonerated by the police provost because he did not fire any bullets, but the State Criminal Investigation Department refused to let him go.

He claimed that he and Obaseki were supposed to be discharged on the morning of the arraignment and had finished packing their things.

He stated that because they were happy, the Investigation Police Officer decided to charge them with murder and conspiracy.

He said, “The DPO exonerated me and this young man, Obaseki, and the investigators exonerated us as well because we did not fire. The police provost disciplinary committee exonerated both of us.

“During these processes, orders had been coming to let us go but Panti (SCID) refused to let us go; they said the day they would charge these two men, they would release us.

“Now this morning, they called them out to charge them to court and one of them (policeman) came saying that we were laughing, that we would go nowhere. I just carried my bag, but on getting outside, they said my offence was that I came out to go home and for that reason, they should go and include me in conspiracy and murder.”

The magistrate called the IPO to explain why the two policemen were arraigned.

The IPO, SP Christopher Onyeisi,  said, “They were taken to the Ikeja provost and the two defendants, Ime and Edet, were found to have committed the offence while the other two, Ike and Obaseki, were subjected to further investigation.

“While the investigation was ongoing, we received an order to charge all of them while the case file should be duplicated and sent to the DPP.

“Actually the police ordered to exonerate the two but the DPP said no, that we should charge all four.”

Magaji requested the court to remand the defendants.

Magistrate Salawu after going through the case file, ordered that the four policemen be remanded in a custodial centre for 30 days pending the DPP’s advice.

The case was adjourned till March 2, 2023.

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