A Nigerian, identified as Kolade Johnson, was allegedly shot and killed by operatives of the Gbagada division of the Special Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) of the Lagos State Police Command while watching a football match on Sunday, March 31, 2019.
Johnson who was 36 years old was reportedly accidentally shot by the police operatives while they were trying to arrest another man because of his dreadlocks in the Mangoro area of Lagos State.
Johnson’s friend, Dennis Ikpoba, told Premium Times that people had gathered around the officers while they attempted to arrest one Ismail Folorunsho who appeared to have been unfairly targeted by the law enforcement officers who arrived the scene in an unpainted Danfo bus.
Johnson was around the scene of the rowdiness watching the English Premier League game between Liverpool and Tottenham, which started around 4:30pm, when he was hit by what is believed to be a stray bullet.
According to a witness who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Johnson was one of the people who gathered to assure the officers of Folorunsho’s innocence when the officers shot to disperse the crowd.
“In an attempt to disperse the crowd, a first shot was fired to the ground. Seeing this, I and the others quickly turned back to avoid trouble, but because Kunle was probably the last person in the crowd, he was shot point blank from behind.
“He didn’t even know he was shot till we had trekked some few metres before we all saw he was bleeding, he died on his way to the hospital at Ikeja,” the witness said.
He was later pronounced dead at the hospital shortly afterwards as the officers fled the scene for fear of being lynched by a mob which soon gathered and blocked the roads around the area.
SACS has grown notorious for indiscriminate raids and arrests in Nigeria’s economic capital as officers target mostly young people they suspect of wrongdoing without any concrete evidence, including their manner of dressing and hairstyle.
These arrests grew more prominent when the state’s former Police Commissioner, Edgal Imohimi, upped the ante on the fight against cultism in the state.
Johnson’s killing fuels outcry for Police reform
Johnson’s unfortunate killing on Sunday has led to a resurgence of the outrage against the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) who, although not responsible for the recent killing, have become the face of police brutality and impunity in the country due to past conducts.
Being young is NOT a crime. Having dreadlocks is NOT a crime.
Sagging your jeans is NOT a crime.
Having tattoos and piercings is NOT a crime.
The big crime is the police harassing and killing the innocent youth they are paid to protect, and nobody stopping them. #EndSARS
— Dr. Joe Abah (@DrJoeAbah) April 1, 2019
Many Nigerians have taken to social media to air their displeasure with Johnson’s killing and called for the scrapping of FSARS, as well as the implementation of meaningful police reform to curb brutality unleashed on helpless citizens.
One of the biggest campaigners for police reform in the country, Segun Awosanya, took to his Twitter account (segalink) on Sunday to call on legislators to urgently pass a police reform bill for assent to prevent the death of more Nigerians.
“We will implore the @SPNigeria @NGRSenate to prioritize the passing of the #NewPoliceActBill for the assent of the President. We can’t continue to watch our young die while we pursue the cure to symptoms. We need this urgently. #ReformPoliceNG,” he posted.