The fatal chase in Osun

A young man, 20-year-old Idris Ajibola of Ofatedo quarters in Osogbo, Osun State, was killed last week by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Osogbo, the state capital, having been mistaken for a fraudster. According to reports, Ajibola was riding in a Toyota Corolla car with four occupants along East bypass, Osogbo, when the incident occurred. Apparently in a bid to apprehend them, the operatives gave them a hot chase, which eventually led to the tragedy. There was panic in Osogbo as angry youths armed with sticks protested the killing, targeting security operatives and bystanders around Oke Fia, Alekuwodo, and Ilobu road. They vandalised a vehicle belonging to the JTF and beat up traffic wardens on duty. They then proceeded to dump the victim’s corpse in front of the Osun Government House, Oke Fia.

Amid the outrage generated by the incident, the lawmaker representing the Ede/Egbedore/ Ejigbo federal constituency in the National Assembly, Mr Bamidele Salam, gave the Inspector General of Police a seven-day ultimatum to identify the culprits. He described the victim as the only hope of his family. Addressing journalists in Osogbo, Salam urged the state governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, to institute a judicial panel of inquiry into the matter. The governor himself equally condemned the killing. The state Commissioner for Information and Civic Orientation, Mrs Funke Egbemode, said: “The tragic events that reportedly led to the death of one person was both sad and shocking and the governor has ordered a full investigation into the circumstances that led to it. While we appreciate the great job our law enforcement agencies are doing to keep Osun safe, the disruption to our peaceful state capital needs to be investigated. We hereby call on the police command in the state to launch a comprehensive investigation into this tragedy.  We implore our citizens to trust the government to get to the bottom of this sad occurrence.”

Men of the security outfit have been subsequently grilled by the Department of State Service (DSS) in the state in a bid to identify the culprits. Sadly, there is no reason to suppose that the public outrage over the killing of Idris Ajibola will curb extrajudicial killings by overzealous and inept security officers in the country. Without proper orientation, these security officers prowl the streets looking for vulnerable young men to prey upon. And more often than not, they get them and literally feed off them unconscionably. Street wisdom therefore dictates that the victims should allow these human predators to extort money from them, otherwise they will be murdered quickly. It is really disconcerting that identifying the culprits in this case has become a herculean task.

There seems to be a conspiracy of silence and a bid to establish a cover-up for the men concerned. Ordinarily, it should be easy to track down the killers. The JTF has a supervisory organ and its activities are ordered. We are not taking any excuses for a shoddy handling of the matter. The crack detectives in the employ of the Nigeria Police should be given an official mandate to investigate this matter thoroughly, if only to salvage the already sullied image of the police force on account of the unending cases of extrajudicial killings and harassment of the citizenry.

We are persuaded that if the police wish to do a professional job of unmasking the culprits, it will be done in no time. A thorough investigation will help to do justice in this case and put paid to allegations of a cover-up. Any society that loses its compass for justice isn’t worth living in. The police owe the Nigerian people the obligation to track down the culprits in good time.



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