Justice for Tina Ezekwe NOW!

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JusticeForTina March at Oworonshoki

Several youths and cultural organisations in Oworonshoki are organising a candlelight rally to demand #JusticeForTina on Thursday, 4 June. Tina Ezekwe, a 16-year old senior secondary school student died in pains on 28 May. She had been hit in the upper thigh two days earlier, by a bullet from the gun of one of the policemen who took over the Berger-Iyana Oworoshoki entry point into the Third Mainland bridge. They were trying to extort money from a commercial bus driver who had allegedly broken the curfew regulations put in place after the partial lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown in Lagos.

Footprint Afrika cultural & creative Arts Academy, Oworonshoki Youth Forum, Oworonshoki Art Forum and other community organizations have come together to flag-off the #JusticeForTina #OpenTrialForTina campaign with heavy hearts. According to them, Tina had a passion for the dramatic arts and cultural activities.

They described her as a rising star cut short before her prime. Tina was a senior secondary school final year student who would have written her WAEC exams last month but for the lockdown. She was always eager to learn new songs and very talented in performing cultural dances. Now, her poor parents, family friends and the community are left to mourn.

This is one killing too many. SWL fully supports the call for #Justice4Tina. The culprits should be brought to book in a transparent manner. And we must all fight to bring an end to brutality and extrajudicial killings by the security forces, particularly the police.

Within the first two weeks of the lockdown, the police killed more people than deaths recorded from COVID-19. According to the National Human Rights Commission, security forces had extrajudicially executed 18 people to enforce lockdown orders, as at 13 August. Deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country were 11, in the same period.

The spate of extrajudicial killings by the police did not start with the lockdown and subsequent curfews. In January, Alex Ogbu, a leading member of the SWL was killed while covering the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s protest to demand the release of their leader El-Zakzaky.

That same month, police killed Chima Ikunado in Port Harcourt, whilst he was illegally in their custody. He was a mechanic. He and three of his colleagues were arrested for no just cause. The police claimed that they were driving a stolen car. They were tortured and it was during this gruesome process that Chima gave up the ghost. The owner of the car debunked the police’s claim, publicly saying that he had taken the car to them for repairs and never called it in as stolen to the police or anybody.

Till date, the killers of Chima Ikunado, who are known have not been brought to book. In the case of Alex Ogbu, the police first lied through their teeth that he injured himself when fleeing and died from wounds sustained after hitting his head on a sharp object. The autopsy report showed this position to be a clear lie. There entry and exit points of a bullet were identified.

So, the Lagos State police command’s statement that the killers of Tina will be made to face justice after an internal trial, cannot but be taken with a pinch of salt.

According to Bala Elkana, the command’s public relations officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police Theophilus Otobo and Inspector Oguntoba Olamigoke have been “linked to the incident”. In his statement issued on Monday, “Olamigoke was subjected to orderly-room-trial at the state command provost’s office” while “the ASP will be appearing before the Force Disciplinary Board sitting in Abuja, whose recommended punishment will be forwarded to the Police Service Commission for approval”. These measures are not enough, they must face an open trial and immediately.

It is time that we bring an end to police brutality and extrajudicial killings. Join the fight for #JusticeForTina and to #EndPoliceBrutality and killing of citizens.

by Segun OGUN

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