ASP Darambi Vandi, who allegedly shot dead a female lawyer, Mrs Bolanle Raheem, on Christmas Day, on Monday appeared before a Lagos High Court on a charge of murder.
Vandi, who appeared before a Lagos High Court sitting at the Tafawa Balewa Square, however, peaded not guilty to the one-count charge preferred by Lagos State Government.
Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, told the court that the defendant committed the alleged offence on Dec. 25, 2022, at Ajah Roundabout on Lekki-Ajah Expressway, Lagos State.
He submitted that Vandi killed Raheem by shooting her on the chest, contrary to Section 223 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.
The attorney-general told the court that prosecution had two witnesses in court and they were ready to give evidence.
“In view of the plea of the defendant, we have two witnesses in court,” he said.
Onigbanjo called the first witness, Insp Matthew Ameh, who said that he had been working with the police since 2001.
The inspector said that he worked at the Lagos State Police Command and was attached to the Ajah Division.
He told the court that on Dec. 25, 2022, he was posted to Ajah Under Bridge with the defendant (Vandi) and another officer, Insp Dimini.
According to the witness, the divisional police officer had instructed them to go and protect lives and property.
Ameh said that their duty on Dec. 25, at Ajah Under Bridge, was to conduct stop-and-search operation.
The witness said: “We were armed while conducting our duty but we were instructed not to use our arms unless someone’s life or our lives were in danger.
“As we were at our duty post, Insp Dimini was in front, I was in the middle while Vandi was behind me.
“There was a Toyota car with no number plate which Insp Dimini tried to flag down but it didn’t stop. I also flagged it down, it didn’t stop. The next thing I heard was a gunshot.
“I looked back and saw the screen of the car falling down. The next thing: a dark woman jumped down from the vehicle, held the defendant, shouting oga you have killed my sister.”
The witness said that the woman held the defendant and the defendant entered the vehicle with the woman and they drove off.
Ameh said that he went back to the police station with the other officer.
He testified that while they were at the station, their patrol vehicle brought the defendant.
He also said that before and during the incident, there was no form of threat to their lives.
Ameh said that they were asked to write statements at the station and that they wrote another statement on Dec. 26 at the state police command, headquarters, Ikeja.
After his evidence-in-chief, the defendant’s counsel, Mr Adetokunbo Oduntola, who had prayed that the case be adjourned because he was recently briefed, cross-examined the witness.
Oduntola asked the witness how long he had worked as a police officer and whether he knew the difference between ordinary noise and gunshot.
The witness told him that he had been working with the police since 2001 and could differentiate between ordinary noise and a gunshot.
He told the defence counsel that what he heard was a gunshot.
Justice Ibironke Harrison adjourned the case until Jan. 25 for continuation of trial.
The defendant was further remanded at the Ikoyi custodial facility.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the case was stood down in the morning when it was first called by the court registrar because both counsel were not yet in court.
NAN also reports that the defence counsel had initially asked for adjournment.
He told the court that he was recently briefed about the case and needed time to go through documents.
He also said that he needed clearer documents because some of the documents given to him were not clear.