Kayode Ajulo, the lawyer hired to prosecute the police over the killing of an ex-minister’s daughter, Anita Akapson, who was shot dead in Abuja last Saturday, has opened up on what led to the death of the young lady.
Ajulo who made this known in an interview with The Punch, also revealed that the family of the deceased has hired a private investigator to probe the killing.
Tell us the circumstances leading to the death of Miss Akapson?
On the night of Saturday, October 13, 2018, four persons driving a Mazda car, trailed, intercepted, brushed and blocked the vehicle driven by the late Anita after which one of the occupants of the vehicle came out to shoot at the rear tyre of her vehicle and also shot her at close range. The fellow, later identified as a superintendent of police, shot into the air to disperse the crowd that gathered.
But when his bullets got expended, he immediately brought out his identity card to identify himself as a police officer. The late Anita, a 31-year-old lady, who recently returned from the United Kingdom, died the same night at Gwarimpa General Hospital due to injuries sustained from the gunshots.
It is important that we do not obscure the heinous crime by putting to the fore that the deceased is a daughter of Mrs. Nenadi Usman, a former Minister of Finance. Rather, the spotlight should be centred on the fact that it has become a near-norm by those paid to protect Nigerians to kill them at the slightest opportunity. This is tragic and also frightening. What this means is that we are all not safe because officers of the Nigerian Police can murder anyone of us, our relatives and friends at the slightest pretext that there was an altercation even when there was none as in the case of Ms. Anita Akapson.
Can you tell us more about the deceased?
Anita is the daughter of Nenadi Usman, a former minister of finance. This was a lady that just returned to Nigeria from the United Kingdom where she studied. She worked with the National Emergency Management Agency. Unfortunately, her life was cut short.
How true is the report that there was a struggle between the deceased and her alleged killer?
What has been peddled is that there was a bit of struggle, but we won’t like to pre-empt the investigation. One thing that is clear is that the lady was sitting in her car and she was shot. Before then, the car was waylaid, intercepted and brushed; the impact is still there.
The car was blocked by the police, so the question is, ‘who is running away that you now chose to kill her in the car?’ As it is, as a lawyer, we would like to know what the police are coming out with as their findings because the rumour we were hearing was that there was an armed robbery attack somewhere and maybe, she was being suspected.
If you suspect somebody of being a robber, something must have happened; maybe you saw her running, you can now assume she might be a suspect. But someone sitting in her car, after you have demobilised the car, shot the tyres, you shot her right inside the car.
What kind of country are we running? Like I said earlier, we are waiting for the outcome of police investigation, but we just need to let the police know that we knew what happened. Of course, the family got an independent investigator to pick everything, the pellets, we have been able to secure the whole thing, but one thing is that a life full of potential has been cut short by the bullets of the Nigeria Police.
That is one thing we cannot take away from the whole thing, no matter the reasons given.
What is your response to the claims by the police that they mistook her for a robbery suspect they were trailing?
It is pertinent to let you know that the late Anita was murdered sitting inside her car. Yes, she was shot through the driver’s side door of the car with the bullet passing through her abdomen, after the killer policemen had shot one of the car tyres.
While we appreciate the fact that the Inspector-General of Police has ordered the detention and investigation of the officers involved in the killing of Anita, we demand the identity of the officers. For a transparent judicial process, the police authorities ought to make the identities of the policemen known so as to avoid a situation where they will ‘miraculously’ escape from detention.
What does the autopsy reveal?
An autopsy was carried out by a government pathologist at the Wuse General Hospital and the result of the pathology is clear. What we need to know is if the police come out with their investigation and if the outcome seems to be different from what we already have because there are many eyewitnesses.
They are willing and ready to testify. We are waiting for the outcome of the investigation and then, we would decide the next thing to be done.
Was the autopsy at the instance of the police?
It was at the instance of the police; It’s only in Nigeria we always get this thing wrong. Anytime such issues come up, the first thing for you to do is to determine the cause of death.
Despite the fact that it is clear, by the time the case gets to court, these are the things the court wants to see. I remember the FCT Commissioner of Police said an autopsy should be conducted and I was called early in the morning on Monday to come to the Wuse General Hospital and I sent our resident doctor and one of the lawyers and some para-legals to witness it.
Do you trust the police to diligently prosecute those involved in the incident?
We demand an independent prosecutor to handle the prosecution of the officers. History has shown that the police can go to any length to protect their own, and this may not be different.
Till date, nothing substantial has been done in the prosecution of the officer that killed Ms. Linda Igwetu, the NYSC member in July this year. We urge that this matter should not be swept under the carpet because as a family, we are willing to go to any length to get justice for our daughter.
What do you think the authorities should do to check extra-judicial killings by police operatives?
The police should have a template of engagement of its officers with the civil populace. A situation where unarmed Nigerians, in this case and Igwetu’s, are killed for untenable reasons calls for far-reaching reforms of the police.
One had thought that with the advocacy for reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, the police authorities will wake up to their responsibilities of making the force professionally responsible. But this has yet to be the case. We demand of the IGP to ensure that this matter is dealt with expeditiously as any attempt to pervert the course of justice will be vigorously resisted.
Is the family going to inter her remains as the circumstances surrounding her death is yet to be ascertained?
That lies with the family. I am sure they would meet to decide what to do.