An officer of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) killed an innocent young man, went into custody, was never tried and became a free man. He is back in active service, but the NPF has denied knowing his whereabouts.
Afolabi Saka was a sergeant with the NPF when he shot and killed Ismaila Akapo, an innocent bystander, in 2019.
The police took custody of Saka and then released him as though he had no questions to answer or posed no threat to another Ismaila.
FIJ spoke with Ismaila’s brother and looked through documents that showed Saka should have been tried for murder in a court of law.
THE POLICE KILLED A GUY WHO WASN’T PARTY TO A SQUABBLE
“In 2019, some policemen were assigned to a particular land in Badagry. There was an altercation between them and members of the public. They fired their gun and it hit Ismaila Akapo, a guy who wasn’t related to the incident somewhere else,” Bisi Adepoju, the lawyer representing the Akapo family, told FIJ on Tuesday.
“Immediately that happened, they (the police officers) were arrested and taken to a Badagry police station. They were moved to Panti a few days after. The family of the victim took the dead body to the morgue. They (the police officers) were in Panti for some time, then they were suddenly released.”
Saliu Akapo, Ismaila’s elder brother, narrated how Saka killed his brother on July 12, 2019.
Akapo told FIJ that Ismaila was only 34 when Saka shot him randomly in a blind fit of rage.
“The incident happened in 2019. Some policemen came to our hometown in Aragun, Badagry. They said that they were from Zone 2, and they had been coming around for years. On this Friday, they were arguing over the depositing of sand on a piece of land or so,” Akapo told this reporter on Wednesday.
“My brother was just passing by. When he saw the crowd, he stopped by. My dad was there, chiefs and other residents were there too. The argument erupted and one of the police officers was triggered. His leader warned him not to shoot but he still shot his gun.
“The officer who led them told him, ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot’. He hit my brother on his right thigh. My brother gave up the ghost that very day.”
Akapo told FIJ that the NPF had done close to nothing about this police officer. He recounted how the officers involved were detained at the police station in Badagry.
The culprit and his colleagues were later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) in Panti, Lagos. From Panti, they were all released and no one has been able to hold Saka to account for his action.
“Normally, this is a murder case. The police have no right to release anyone charged with a murder offence. The only thing they can do is to take that person to a magistrate court or take him to the high court. It is only the court that has the power to release him, not the police,” Adepoju told FIJ.
“They released the guy and then they transferred him to Zamfara. In the meantime, I kept on working with the family. We were at the Lagos DDP. Legal advice came out that the guy should be charged with murder. The case has been assigned to Justice Adesanya in Court 11 TBS High Court. They have released this man, he’s no longer in custody and he cannot be arraigned because of this.”
THE POLICE CLAIMED THEY DID NOT KNOW WHERE THE ERRING OFFICER WAS, BUT THEY LIED
Adepoju told FIJ a fair bit about his work on the Ismaila Akapo case and the victim’s quest to get justice.
The lawyer representing Ismaila’s family told FIJ that the police had told him that they had no idea where Saka was. Saka did not break out of jail; the police force eased him out of detention before trial.
“I wrote letters to the IGP and [Muyiwa] Adejobi, the force PPRO. Countless letters, and they kept telling me they didn’t know where he was and they could not locate him. This guy works for the Nigeria Police Force and I know that he has been transferred to Zamfara,” Adepoju told FIJ on Tuesday.
“I petitioned the #ENDSARS panel on behalf of the family and two lawyers were sent by the police to defend this same man. The lawyers categorically said that Saka had been transferred to Zamfara State. So, Adejobi cannot say that they don’t know where he is.
“They later told me to provide his force number, a unique number assigned to every police officer in Nigeria. I went to DPP and sent it to them and they said that they were still working on it. I later found out that some AIG was involved from when the guy was originally in detention in Badagry. They just want to kill the case.”
‘WE WANT JUSTICE‘
Akapo failed to mince his words or emotions when he told FIJ that he wanted justice.
“I am Ismaila’s elder brother. I want justice; we want justice. I was the one who brought up the case. We went to the arbitration court at Lekki and there was a judgement that the police officer should be prosecuted. We have been looking for this officer. They didn’t show up. We have not set our eyes on them,” Akapo said.
“We have continued to visit the court; we are still going there in June. We don’t know what to do now. We have been the ones making all the efforts to get the police to do the right thing here.
“Just look at Fela’s son, Seun Kuti, who harassed a police officer. They took him to court immediately and he was detained the whole time. I mean, we cannot compare his offence to the killing of my brother. Is it because we are ordinary citizens who do not have any power?”
COMMUNICATION FROM THE POLICE IS DEFLECTIVE
From the NPF’s point of view, Sergeant Saka is a needle in a haystack. The authorities cannot, or will not confirm Saka’s current status.
FIJ called and sent messages to Adejobi and Benjamin Hundeyin, the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, on Wednesday.
Adejobi did not answer the phone calls, and he had not responded to the message at press time.
Hundeyin told FIJ to speak to the public relations officer of Zone 2.
“Speak with PRO Zone 2,” he replied in a text.
This reporter spoke with Hauwa, public relations officer of the Nigerian Police Zone 2 Command HQ, Onikan, Lagos, on Thursday.
“There are so many officers at Zone 2. I cannot know who this person is until I get to work to confirm,” Hauwa told FIJ.
FIJ followed up with a text message it sent to Hauwa.
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