Gbenga Raheem’s family finally found justice yesterday when a High Court, convened at Tafa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos, delivered a death sentence by hanging to the former Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Drambi Vandi. Vandi, who had been dismissed from the police force, faced this severe punishment for the brutal killing of Omobolanle, Raheem’s pregnant wife.
The heartbreaking incident occurred on December 25, 2022, at the Ajah under-bridge checkpoint, where Vandi mercilessly shot Omobolanle, a 41-year-old lawyer, to death in the presence of her husband, Gbenga.
In response to the public outcry that followed, the Lagos State government brought him to court, charging him with murder under Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
Vandi pleaded not guilty
The accused entered a plea of not guilty to the death charge. Throughout the trial, the prosecution, led by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins, presented a case that included 11 witnesses, among whom were eight police officers and submitted 27 exhibits as evidence.
The sole individual who provided testimony in his defense was the defendant himself. During his defense, Vandi informed the court that the loud noise, which eyewitnesses had heard, was actually from a firecracker.
Furthermore, on February 20, the defendant’s counsel, Mr. Adetokunbo Odutola, submitted a no-case submission application to the court. In this application, Vandi requested that the court dismiss the case and acquit him, asserting that there was no basis for him to provide a defense.
How the lawyer was killed
During his arguments, the defense counsel emphasized several points for the court’s consideration. Firstly, he pointed out that none of the eyewitnesses had actually seen the defendant fire the shot. Additionally, the ballistic report on the alleged firearm used expressly stated that the bullet could not be linked to any of the firearms recovered from the police officers at the scene.
Odutola also drew the court’s attention to the testimony of the pathologist, who confirmed that the deceased had died from a gunshot injury at the left axillary fold, with the bullet trajectory moving from posterior to anterior, ultimately piercing through the chest. However, on April 3, the court rejected the application, asserting that the defendant had a case to answer, and subsequently, allowed his trial to proceed.
Vandi found guilty
The court further ruled that a firecracker (banger) could not cause a fatality and noted that the defense had not presented any contradictory expert evidence. In her judgment delivered yesterday, the judge found Vandi guilty of the murder charge brought by the state government.
Justice Harrison concluded that the prosecution witnesses provided “compelling circumstantial evidence” against the defendant. She stated that the prosecution had presented ample oral and documentary evidence that established a clear link between the defendant and the crime.
The judge further emphasized the significance of the testimony from the deceased’s sister, who had clung to the defendant’s shirt after the shooting, and the eyewitnesses who had unequivocally identified him as the shooter.
The court noted that the defendant failed to provide substantial evidence to refute the circumstances surrounding his actions, including being seen fleeing into a minibus, where he was subsequently pulled out and taken to the hospital. It was observed that he even changed into casual clothing and concealed himself under a staircase at the hospital.
Regarding the forensic evidence, the pathologist’s testimony indicated that the deceased had been shot at close range, while the state’s armorer confirmed that two bullets were missing from his weapon after the incident. The ballistic report, though inconclusive due to defects in the defendant’s firearm, still pointed to the fact that the defendant’s gun had been fired that day.
Vandi sentenced to death by hanging
The court emphasized that the gun’s defects would not have caused it to discharge spontaneously and concluded that it was the only weapon discharged on that occasion.
The judge found it perplexing that the defendant, who was the lead officer at the checkpoint, was the sole individual present who claimed not to have heard the loud gunshot reported by other witnesses.
The court established that the deceased had been shot at close range and struck through the back windshield. It was further noted that the defendant was the only armed individual positioned on the right side, as the other officer on the left was not armed. While none of the eyewitnesses directly witnessed the defendant pulling the trigger, it was deemed nearly impossible to observe this action. At best, they could attest to seeing him point the gun and hearing a gunshot.
Consequently, the court found the defendant guilty of one count of murder and sentenced him to hanging by the neck until his death.
Nigeria, a nation grappling with severe security issues, is actively exploring a novel ave…