In a rare ruling, a Nigerian court has sentenced a police officer to death for the fatal shooting of a lawyer in Lagos, the country’s bustling commercial center. The verdict, delivered by Justice Ibironke Harrison of the Lagos High Court, has been widely applauded as a significant step towards addressing the prevalent issue of police misconduct. Following a nearly year-long trial, Officer Drambi Vandi was found guilty of the murder of Bolanle Raheem, who was pregnant at the time of the tragic incident that occurred on Christmas Day in Ajah. Vandi had contested the charges, but a fellow officer’s testimony confirmed the sound of the gunshot.
While Vandi retains the right to appeal the decision, the judge declared, “You will be hanged by the neck till you are dead.” This landmark ruling has sparked discussions about capital punishment in Nigeria, where death sentences are not uncommon but rarely applied to law enforcement officers. The execution of such sentences requires the approval of influential state governors, casting uncertainty on whether Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will sanction Vandi’s execution.
The verdict comes at a time when authorities face mounting pressure to ensure accountability within the security forces, following nationwide protests against police brutality in 2020. While many Nigerians have praised the court’s decision, there are those who advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, citing concerns about its inhumanity, potential for error, and lack of evidence supporting its deterrent effect on crime.