Slain Lagos police officer buried in Ibadan

FAMILY members, friends and colleagues gathered on Friday in Ibadan, Oyo State, to pay their last respects to Kazeem Sunmonu Abonde, the police officer that was murdered in the line of duty by hoodlums on Thursday, September 23, at Ajao Estate in Lagos State. 

Abonde, 54, was a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) as of the time of his death. He was killed during an operation to curtail the lawlessness of commercial motorcycle riders in Lagos. 

Before conveying his body for interment at his family home at a settlement on Akanran Road in Ibadan, the Lagos State police command had held a lying-in-state for Abonde at the command’s headquarters in Ikeja, after which his fellow officers, led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Ahmed Magaji Kontagora, who represented the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, drove in a convoy to the deceased’s final resting place. 

At the police arrival with the corpse, the gathering burst into wailing. A guard of honour was mounted for him by police officers in ceremonial uniform. 

After the guard of honour and parade, Kazeem’s body was removed from the ceremonial casket, in accordance with Islamic doctrine and clerics said the Fida’u prayer on his body, which was wrapped in a white shroud and laid on the ground. 

After this, they proceeded to the graveside and waited until 21 gun salutes were fired into the air before lowering him into the grave. 

As this went on, the deceased’s sons stood by the graveside, while his daughters stood a distance away. His wife, overwhelmed with emotions, sat away from the vicinity and could not utter a word during an attempt to conduct an interview with her. 

A leader of the Abonde family, Dr Oladeji Dauda Abonde, who described himself as confidant of the late police officer, said: “We used to work together on any happenings in the family. We are from Abonde family.” 

He said: “I don’t usually pick calls after 8.00 p.m., and on the day of the occurrence, I had slept. But when I got up to put off the generator, I saw that I had missed 36 calls. I was wondering who it was and I saw a message from a family member asking me to check the picture sent to me and call a number forwarded to me. 

“I zoomed the picture sent to me. It was the face of a person that had been battered beyond recognition. I saw his name tag ‘K.S. Abonde’ and I knew immediately he was the one. My phone fell from my hand and I could not sleep again. I couldn’t hold myself together and everyone that heard the news that night cried. He played a big role in the family and among friends. 

“At about 11.00 p.m., I called the Lagos State police command officer whose number was forwarded to me and he said we should come to Lagos for the release of Kazeem’s corpse. 

“The following day, we went to Lagos but we were told there was the need to do a post-mortem, while a three-man committee was raised to see to the burial. His lawyer-friends were just weeping. He was a breadwinner of the family. 

“He got recruited into Nigeria Police Force with his secondary school certificate. He got his OND and HND in Secretarial Studies through struggle, but still was not promoted until Tafa Balogun did it for those with additional qualifications. I learnt he was regarded as an intelligent officer. 

“He secured admission to study Law at the Lagos State University and finished in 2018. He then did a Master’s degree which he finished in 2019. Three days before his death, I discussed with him about his chambers and introduced him to an officer of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) who could be of assistance as he would start his practice in his chambers after his retirement, not knowing that his life would be cut short.” 

Kazeem’s immediate elder brother, the first child of their parents, Mr Lukmon Abiodun Sunmonu-Abonde, also spoke with Saturday Tribune. He said: “The news of his (Kazeem’s) death came to us as a shock. We met in Lagos in September when we went for the introduction ceremony of a family member. He was the one who coordinated everything and we had planned the wedding for December 18 but now Kazeem is dead. “He loved his family. He embraced all. He participated actively in family activities.” 

‘How I received news of my brother’s death’ 

He said: “I had yet to hear about the death of my brother when I was called by the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, on Thursday, September 23, as I was about to sleep. He commiserated with me on Kazeem’s death. He informed me that Kazeem went for an operation but did not return. The CP said that the entire command was saddened by the loss, even more than family members. He said the family should come to Lagos for the corpse. 

“We went there on Friday but were told to wait a little bit for certain things to be done, with the information that the IGP also heard about the incident. 

“My brother started showing his love for his family and everyone since his childhood. When we were in Osogbo, during the transfer of our father, Raheem Sunmonu-Abonde, who was a policeman, to Iwo, rain fell on a day when our father and mother were not around. Kazeem went to take the clothes spread outside into the house and started crying, saying that rain would be beating our dad and mum. That showed me how much love he had, and he continued to grow in it. He has touched so many lives, as people have been recounting what he did for them and he touched their lives. He was open- handed.” 

Kazeem’s struggles 

“Our father was a policeman, who retired as a Corporal after 15 years of service because there was no promotion and the salary was poor. He was at Eleyele as a mobile policeman at MOPOL 5 then. When my brother left secondary school, he joined the Nigeria Police Force. Shortly before his retirement, my father had given him a letter to an Inspector at Eleyele. That was how he became a Constable at Apata Division. 

“He used to be on night duty and would go to school in the morning. That was how he got his OND and HND certificates from The Polytechnic, Ibadan. When he was transferred to Akure, he started his Master’s degree programme at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko and got MBA in Public Administration. 

“The IGP then, Tafa Balogun, was magnanimous in picking those with certificates and promoting them and my brother became an Inspector after participating in a training programme in Jos, Plateau State. 

“He was transferred to Kogi State and became a DPO. He was much-talked about in Kogi as a humble and all-embracing man. After then, he came to Lagos and was DPO Ajangbadi. His good performance at Ajangbadi by destabilising hoodlums brought about his transfer to command headquarters to the operations unit until we heard if his death.” 

He urged the government to pursue the case to a logical conclusion, saying, “Those who killed my brother should be brought to justice to serve as deterrent to other criminally-minded persons. Also, his entitlements should be fast-tracked and promptly paid because of his children and other responsibilities. His children are still young and attending schools, and we want their education to go smoothly. We don’t want his labour for Nigeria to be in vain.” 

The slain officer’s daughter, Ramat Abonde, could only utter the words “He was a great man but they have taken him from us. He was caring to everybody.” 

The late Kazeem’s sister, Mrs Ganiyat Yetunde Odetayo, née Sunmonu-Abonde, also eulogised his brother, saying: “Everybody that we didn’t know have been talking of how he had been of help. We have accepted it with faith but he died a painful death and we know that the doers will not go unpunished by God. He bore the name Ajao as his ‘oriki’ and he was killed in Ajao Estate.” 

His cousin, AbdulKabir Olawale Onikede, said he was bewildered at the circumstances that led to Kazeem’s death but everything had been left in God’s hands. 

He said: “It is confounding that he led 50 policemen to Ajao Estate, according to what we heard, and he, as the head, was the only one killed. He was the type that would not want anything to happen to those he would take out on operation. It was not a serious operation and we learnt he was counselling the bike riders when he was attacked from behind. 

“He had faced tense operations while he was in Kogi State, as he was usually sent to places where the battles were fierce, but God helped him that even the indigenes later loved him when they saw that he was a humble officer. They didn’t want him to go when he was posted out of the command. 

“I believe that God decided it was time. That was why they succeeded in killing him. We will not know what we have lost until he is needed for one thing or the other.” 

The late officer’s 85-year-old mother was said to have taken the death of her son with stoicism but was said to be surrounded by family members at all times at her residence in the Gbelekale area of Ibadan. In an interview with newsmen, Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations in the Lagos State command, Ahmed Magaji Kotangora, spoke about the late officer. Kontagora said: “The gathering and presence of police officers from the command have said it all. Abonde was a diligent and disciplined officer. He was very dedicated. He was always in the frontline in the fight against crime and criminality in the police command. We miss him already and pray for the repose of his soul.” 

The DCP assured that all the entitlements of the late Abonde would be released to the family without delay “because the police force is actually mourning this unfortunate incident. All his entitlements will be given without any delay.” 

On what the police command would do about the notoriety of Ajao Estate being occupied by motorcycle riders and some hoodlums, the DCP Ops said that the area had been raided immediately after the incident and a number of miscreants arrested. 

“We are trying to find the perpetrators of this heinous act. We want to know who killed him. That is our concern, our mission. In due course, the investigation will be completed and the perpetrators will be charged to court,” he said.

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