‘Shooting spotlights police failings in Nigeria’

Footage that shows the moment policemen killed a man in a drive-by shooting is being examined by the police, with some lawyers claiming it implicates the Lagos State government in the fatal shooting.

Nigeria’s security agencies are trying to solve the killing of Godwin Anyanwu, 48, in a turnabout for a force that has played a leading role in a wave of robberies, killings and kidnappings in the country.

Surveillance cameras captured the fatal shooting as Anyanwu drove into a toll gate, not far from the lagoon. A man in a grey shirt sits on the other side of the road in the arms of policemen. Witnesses say the man – wearing gloves – throws a tyre into the car, knocking it into the back of the vehicle.

The man then pedals off. The car rolls forward with the tyres still spinning, its driver struggling to get out. Anyanwu, sitting in the front passenger seat, gets out and backs away, shooting into the air as he leaps up. He stumbles backwards and one of the police launches an unprovoked and fatal shot, evidently from behind, killing him instantly.

The graphic footage emerged after the death of Douglas Udoh, who was accused of owing N18m in tolls on the bridge by one of the policemen alleged to have shot Anyanwu.

Police spokesman Lekan Owoseni insisted that only one policeman fired, and that “the deceased resisted arrest with severity to throw and fracture the road-sign apparatus”, though he has provided no details of the injuries sustained by Udoh.

Anyanwu’s mother, who fled her native Imo state in the north-east last year and went into hiding, said the police shot her son “for no reason”. She said she told police that the vehicle had not been full of money at the time of his death.

“I am losing hope. The police cannot investigate them to death. They will probably say that the money is somewhere in the suspects’ house,” Mrs Anyanwu said.

She could be right: earlier this month, police claimed that Oyetoro Timothy Adeosun, a Nigerian of Ghanaian descent who was detained at the Gambia border, had confessed to $16m in drug trafficking.

Globally, the use of officers of the law to provide security for convoys is common. At the height of the Angolan civil war in 2000, a British diplomat was caught dead by soldiers guarding a convoy of oil tankers. In 2002, a former minister of transport was killed while driving with his wife in Zaire, the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Though Nigeria’s police force is widely admired for its professionalism and efficiency, it has also been accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings, and only last year four policemen were found guilty of shooting an alleged motorcycle thief dead after beating him.

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