A police officer, Sunday Akagu has testified before the Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square as the sixth prosecution witness in the trial of the Assistant Superintendent of Police Drambi Vandi charged with the killing of a Lagos-based lawyer, Bolanle Raheem, on Christmas Day.
Akagu, an inspector who has spent over 20 years in the police, said his colleague asked for a bullet to replace his own because it was not complete after the shooting.
“In the process of going to the police station, Vandi called me by my nickname and said, ‘Odogwu, help me with one ammunition’ and I said ‘no, where will I have it to replace it? Why will I give you my ammunition?’ And I got provoked and told my colleagues what he requested.”
When the state Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, asked if he obliged his colleague’s request, “No, over my dead body,” the witness replied.
Akagu said he and three other colleagues were patrolling on December 25 at the Ajah area when they received a distress call from their divisional boss to come to the office.
From their office, they went to the Budo hospital where the deceased was first taken to.
“It was at the Budo hospital, where we met the defendant and asked what happened and he said ‘let’s discuss it at the station’,” he said.
“Then the DPO ordered us to take the defendant to the station.”
He said that five of them visited the hospital – “the driver, three of us at the back and the driver and one person close to the driver.”
The officer also said he was tense when he heard that his colleague “fired”.
Under cross-examination from the the defendant’s lawyer, Adetokunbo Odutola, the witness said he was not at the crime scene. He said they got to the police division around 1pm.
He further said that when they took the defendant back to the division from the hospital, they left their boss at the hospital.
Odutola asked “at what point was the defendant disarmed?”
“I was not there when he was disarmed,” the witness answered.
“When he entered your vehicle, was his gun with him?”
“I don’t know,” he replied.
“So, his gun was with you?”
“No. I don’t know. They disarmed him before we got to the hospital,” he replied.
“Now you told the court that he asked you for the bullet, which gun would he then put the bullet in if he had been disarmed?
“I don’t know,” the witness answered.
The witness also said he and two others, Okoye and Ismail, were armed with the defendant in the police van.
“Can you tell the court the number of the gun you booked?
“It is written in the arm diary. I don’t know it off the top of my head,” he replied.
A second witness, Olagunju Olatunji, the investigating police officer of the case before it was transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), who also testified, said he had spent 18 years in the police.
He told the court that he was in the station around 1pm when one Enema Titilayo (the deceased’s sister) “ran to the station and reported a case of conspiracy and shooting.”
He told the court that he was part of the team that drove to the three hospitals the deceased was referred to before her death.
“We drafted the police and took her corpse to the Yaba Specialist Hospital and deposited her corpse,” he said.
Speaking of his encounter with the suspected killer cop, Olagunju said he “saw him hiding under a staircase,” at the hospital.
In the course of his investigation, the witness said “the statement of the suspect was taken with caution while the statement of the complainant was taken voluntarily.
“It was transferred to the SCID in Yaba for further discreet investigation.
“Before I transferred the case, what I found out during my investigation is that the defendant fired the gun and at the same time his ammunition was not complete.
“As at the time of his arrest, I saw him with a civilian top on a police trousers.”
During cross-examination, the defendant’s lawyer asked “did the complainant say she saw him shoot?
“She knows him. She didn’t mention his name because she didn’t know his name. She had already held him hostage at the Ajah bridge. Yes,” the witness replied.
“It was when they got to the hospital that the woman ran to the station to make a formal report.”
When he was asked how many officers went to the first hospital, he said eight which is contrary to the testimony of the first witness who said five.
“Can you describe the sitting arrangements in the patrol,” the lawyer asked.
“Five of us were inside and three were at the back. I don’t know their names.”
When he was asked to mention their names, the witness explained that he was recently posted to the division and wasn’t familiar with their names.
“Would it surprise you that one of those who went with the DPO said that there were only five?
“That’s not true. We were eight,” he replied.
He said that after Mrs Raheem was declared dead at the third hospital, three of them took her body to the mortuary.
Speaking on the “three instances” that made him conclude that it was his colleague who murdered Mrs Raheem, he said “when the gun was shot, the deceased, both the husband came down and held the cop and took him to Budo (the first hospital) hospital.
“The second instance is that two (officers) out of the three held guns on that day. When they brought their guns to the station, only Sup Vandi’s gun had a shortage of two bullets while the other one was complete.
The third is that, the police officer hid under a staircase and he changed his uniform to another one with a gun at hand.”
“Is this the first time that you will see a policeman wear mufti and carry a gun?” the lawyer asked. The witness said no.
“Would it surprise you that the complainant and her husband never said that they saw the defendant shoot?
“I will be very surprised,” he replied.
“Can you arrive at that opinion without a scientific or ballistic proof?
Part of the evidence is eyewitness testimony. Hearsay. That is my personal report as an IPO, other investigations can follow,” he replied.
Justice Ibironke Harrison has adjourned the hearing to 8 and 9 February for continuation of trial.