An inquest into the death of Jumoke Oyeleke, a 25 years old lady killed during a ‘Yoruba Nation’ rally in Lagos, has ruled that she died of a bullet shot from a police weapon.
The coroner, Magistrate Mukaila Fadeyi, who sat at the magistrate court in the Ogba area of Lagos, said the police shot the deceased and caused her untimely death.
On July 3, 2021, Yoruba Nation agitators converged at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in the Ojota area of Lagos to demand an independent state for the southwest region. During the protest, the police fired bullets into the air and used teargas to disperse the crowd. Afterwards, Jumoke, a 25-year-old, was found dead at a location near the venue of the rally.
In his findings, the coroner said, “The only logical conclusion is that the deceased died from a weapon by the Nigerian police” and noted that “the deceased deserves our sympathy.”
The coroner went on to make the following recommendations:
“(1) it is strongly recommended that the state govt encourages the FG on the training, retraining, and reorientation of police officers on the right to hold protests in a democratic setting.
“(2) Payment of compensation should be affected to the family of the deceased by the FG.
“(3) The IGP should ensure a total overhaul of the police force to fish out the bag eggs and ensure that they are brought to book to forestall further accidental killings.
“(4) Mental & medical checkups are recommended for police officers to determine suitability to bear arms
“(5) Access to Freedom Park should never be locked or cordoned off in future
“(6) No police officer detailed to protest grounds should be issued live bullets
“(7) The AG Lagos should be mandated to pass on these recommendations to the relevant authorities for implementation
“(8) There is also the need of the state to fund the activities of the coroner act 2015, to stem unwarranted and unlawful killings in the state.”
On 3 July 2021, a group known as the Yoruba Nation converged at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in the Ojota area of Lagos to demand an independent state for the southwest region of Nigeria. The Police, however, sprayed water cannons and fired teargas on the protesters to disperse them, arresting dozens in the process.
A 25-year-old girl named Jumoke Oyeleke, who was recently employed as a salesgirl in a makeshift shop close to the rally venue, was allegedly killed by a stray bullet while preparing for the day.
The Lagos State Police Command at the time denied involvement in the killing. In a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the police said it did not fire live bullets at the Ojota rally and that the corpse of the girl was found wrapped and abandoned at a distance, far from the Ojota venue of the rally, behind MRS Filling Station, inward Maryland with dried blood stains suggesting that the corpse is not fresh.
However, an autopsy report from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) showed that Jumoke died from “hemopericardium”, that is, disruption to the heart and lungs and missile injury to the chest.
Following the controversy surrounding the death, and the public outcry, the state government set up an inquest, a fact-finding tribunal to undermine the circumstances surrounding her death. The coroner’s inquest had the mandate to establish the identity of the deceased, how, when and where she died; and to provide recommendations to forestall a reoccurrence.
The inquest which started in August 2021, heard from six witnesses including the mother of the deceased; Ifeoluwa Oyeleke, an assistant commissioner of police; Tunde Adeniran and Sunday Soyemi, a pathologist with LASUTH.