For most Nigerians, police brutality and extra-judicial killing have become a way of life. Young people are not sure of coming back to their loved ones, and parents are not sure of seeing their youth at the end of the day. People have complained of being packed into commercial buses and taken to unknown locations, by men bearing arms, without knowing precisely what they are being arrested for. It is no longer news that alleged members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force, follow victims to ATMs and threaten them into emptying their bank accounts. Unfortunately, the activism to reform the NPF has been on, but the government has always turned a deaf ear to the cries of Nigerians. The murder of Kolade is an indictment on the Nigeria Police, but it is not the first or second, but hopefully, it becomes the last because no parent deserves the loss of a son in such condition.
Reacting to the tragedy, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki condoled with the family and friends of the deceased while reiterating the commitment of the Senate in passing the Police Reform Bill. In a tweet, he stated, “…make no mistake, the 8th Senate remains committed to the passage of the #PoliceReformBill to ensure that our Police Force is more efficient and responsive to the needs of all Nigerians.” For Nigerians who have been asking for police reform, this is a step towards achieving a sound policing system that engenders transparency, efficiency, and accountability.
Furthermore, the Nigeria Police concerning the incident tweeted; “Police team suspected to have been involved in the shooting of Kolade Johnson is now in our custody…CP Lagos assures justice will prevail.” As useful as this may look, this is not the first, second or even the third time that SARS has killed or brutalized Nigerians unlawfully. Hence, a statement without corresponding actions is far from palatable for Nigerians who do not know whose son, daughter, brother or sister is next. Nigerians supposedly expect nothing less than a third-party investigation into the alleged murder case, a reform of the Police and Justice for Kolade.
Just like the police, the Presidency reacted via a tweet, “Deepest Condolences to the family and friends of Kolade Johnson, a victim of the March 31 fatal shooting in Lagos. @PoliceNG have assured that the Team suspected of involvement in the shooting have been apprehended & are undergoing the disciplinary procedure. Updates will be provided.” Words cannot bring back the dead, but actions can prevent another person from becoming a victim. No matter how consoling the words are, it can never bring back Kolade, but to make a more significant impact for the future, the government must heed the recurring call to reform the police.