A coroner’s inquest in Lagos State has recommended compensation for the family of Jumoke Oyeleke, a young woman killed by a stray bullet from the police during a Yoruba Nation rally in Lagos state.
The coroner also said security officers deployed to maintain law and order during rallies, agitations and protests must not be issued live bullets to prevent killing by “accidental discharge” or stray bullet.
This was stated in the verdict given by M.K.O. Fadeyi last Thursday, urging the Lagos State government to investigate the circumstances surrounding Oyeleke’s death.
SaharaReporters earlier reported that personnel of the Nigeria Police Force had been indicted for the killing. In a witness statement obtained by SaharaReporters, the Investigating Police Officer, Onyeisi Chris Nwaolai stated that it has been established that Oyeleke was killed by a stray bullet.
In his ruling, Fadeyi stated that he cannot award the family damages as asked by the counsel since nothing in the law allows it because an inquest is strictly a fact-finding procedure.
His recommendations include “strongly” recommending the State Government which has “minimal control over the men of the Nigerian Police” to engage the “Federal Government on the need for training, re-training and re-orientation of police officers on their constitutional roles in a democracy particularly for them to recognise that holding of a rally to express resentment or advance a cause is in no way unconstitutional in a democracy”.
The inquest “further recommended that payment of compensation is effected to the immediate family of the deceased, Jumoke Oyeleke by the Federal Government, which though may not bring the deceased back, but will serve to take the sting off and/or ameliorate some of the problems occasioned by the loss of a co-breadwinner”.
It asked the Inspector General of Police to “ensure a total overhaul of personnel in the Police Force to fish out the bad elements and ensure they are brought to book, to forestall further accidental killings”.
Other recommendations made by the coroner are as follows: “Mental and medical check-ups are recommended for police officers, in order to determine the suitability to carry arms on behalf of the state.
“Recognising the fact that the supposed venue of the rally which occasioned the death of Jumoke was locked and cordoned off, access to non-residential locations, as the Freedom Park or Fawehinmi Freedom Park should never be locked or cordoned off in the future, in view of the accepted fact that the holding of a rally is by itself not unconstitutional.
“That no security officer deployed to maintain law and order during further rallies, agitations and protests MUST be issued any live bullet. to prevent innocent bystanders from becoming victims of “accidental discharge” or stray bullets.
“That the Honourable Attorney General of Lagos State should be mandated by the State Government to pass on the recommendations made by the Chairman of this Inquest to the relevant authorities for implementation.
“And equally important is the need for the State to fund activities under the Coroner System’s Law of Lagos State 2015, in order to stem unwarranted, unjustified and unlawful killings within the State and bring to book its perpetrators.”
“I cannot award damages as requested by the learned counsel to the family, as nothing in the Law presently permits that. An inquest is purely a fact-finding exercise. I must finally commend the counsel to the State and the Family of the deceased, and the gentlemen of the press and the general public for ensuring that something as horrendous as this killing was not swept under the carpet,” he added.