Editorial: Putting a lasting end to accidental discharges

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Last month the emotional case of a young Nigerian, Monsurat Ojuade, seeking admission but was shot dead by a police officer was in the media space. The late Ojuade, 18-year-old, who sat for the last Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and scored 236 was shot dead around Ijeshatedo area of Lagos state.

According to the Lagos State Police Command, Ojuade was shot dead when detectives from the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, went on investigation activities to effect arrest of a robbery suspect in the area. We commend the State command for it’s swiftly apprehending the Sergeant Samuel Philips that pulled the trigger. Although the action would not bring back the lost life, it would send the message to Nigerians that the police is truly reformed. The Commissioner of Police in the state, Hakeem Odumosu, in a statement released by the command’s public relations officer, Adekunle Ajisebutu, assured that the police officer would be tried and charged to court immediately after his dismissal from the Force.

We hope this would serve as a deterrent to others. However, we are worried that there has been increased rate of accidental discharge in Lagos state. Tina Ezekwe, a 16-year-old girl was killed on May 26, 2020 at Iyana-Oworo bus stop where she sold fruits for her mother when a police officer arguing with a bus driver over bribe fired shots and a stray bullet hit Tina. She died three days later, on Thursday May 28, at a hospital in Lagos Island.

28-year-old Fatai Oladipupo was shot dead on Wednesday May 20, 2020 by a police inspector Charles Okoro in Igando, Ikotun area of Lagos, while Ikechukwu Ilohamauzo, a driver, was hit by a stray bullet from a police officer during the #EndSARS protest on October 13, 2020. The slain driver, according to his principal, Samuel Okafor, got out of the car to ease himself and was hit by a police bullet. In March 31, 2019, a young man, Kolade Johnson was shot by officers attached to the Special Anti-Cultism Squad (SACS) during a raid of a football viewing centre in Lagos. 

In April, Veronica Kufre, a 15-year-old guest at a wedding ceremony in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, was hit by a stray bullet when and official of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) drafted to provide security at the event had an accidental discharge from his rifle. These in appropriate and unprofessional acts of some security operatives in the country are a cause of concern. While these men are employed to ensure protection of lives and properties and maintain law and order, there rifles are rather a threat to the people they are employed to protect.

We have observed that these unfortunate actions are rampart among the police and paramilitary agencies. It is therefore obvious that rifle handling and management is either not taken into cognizant during training of these security operatives or they are careless. Acts like these are absolutely avoidable. We therefore challenge the Inspector General of Police and the heads of other arms bearing paramilitary agencies in the country to ensure that their operatives are well trained on handling of firearms. This would reduce avoidable discharge of stray bullet.

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