Police officer shot school candidate in ‘mob action’ over phone

CCTV footage of a policeman allegedly shooting a man in Lekki, Lagos, in June has emerged with questions being raised about the circumstances leading to the incident.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has asked for the public’s help to find the officer, Robert Ochi, who shot Sunday Onyekachi. The video footage shows Ochi walking up to the victim, 43-year-old Onyekachi, who was a candidate in the secondary school examinations, at about 5.20pm. The video footage, obtained by Daily Trust, shows the officer, one of three constables who accompanied the victim to the examination centre, pointing a gun at him. He then shoots Onyekachi in the head. His mobile phone was then reportedly snatched.

The office of the Inspector General of Police confirmed on Sunday that three men who had been holding Onyekachi hostage in Lagos since last year would be arraigned in court for allegedly kidnapping him. “The victim was held hostage by three thugs and a gang of ‘Lagos boys’ and this saw the robbery. On December 14, 2018, he was led to the bank by his sister who was supposed to take him to the examination centre, but they (robbers) forced him to follow them to the bank, and was so relieved when he got there that he found some answers and was free and very excited,” the IGP’s office said in a statement.

“Two days after he took the victim to the bank and secured him a pass, the three suspects were seen waiting at Alausa, Ikeja, with the victim and his mobile phone. A few minutes later, the victim, who had been searching for his mobile phone since the previous week when he was left behind in the bank, was at the scene of the robbery and called the policemen to assist in locating his mobile phone. One of the officers who participated in the robbery also participated in the recovery of the stolen mobile phone and a bit of the victim’s pocket.”

Another internet news site, Igbo Kuti, said there were also security cameras covering the area but the footage has not been released.

Former Lagos Police Commissioner Ibu Okafor dismissed the report as untrue, saying that the IGP was just giving his opinion without investigation. “In those days, law enforcement officers used to go about, robbing and kidnapping for cash,” he said. “Things have changed, since I left the police. People don’t care about individuals’ lives.”

Okafor, who retired as the Deputy Commissioner of Police, said it was embarrassing for the officer to say he fired in self-defence. The killing of anyone is a major violation of human rights, said Okafor. Onyekachi, a medical laboratory scientist at the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital, was a father of two. The death of any individual is not acceptable, he said.

When a group of students went to the police station and demanded for the security footage, the footage was deleted, a sister to the victim told The Guardian. “The boys want to murder us. They have already said they have hired assassins, but we say no,” a 20-year-old student of Lagos State University, one of the students, said. He was accompanied by four members of his university’s Student Union Government, which is calling for justice.

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