ASP Drambi Vandi, the policeman accused of killing Lagos-based lawyer Mrs. Omobolanle Raheem on Christmas Day last year, has pleaded not guilty to murder.
Vandi was arraigned on Monday before a Lagos High Court at the Tafawa Balewa Square presided over by Justice Ibironke Harrison where a one-count charge of murder was preferred on him.
The arraignment which was scheduled for 9 am was initially delayed by the absence of counsel to defend Vandi in court.
When the case was called, the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, who is leading the prosecution told the court that he was informed the defence counsel was still on his way.
The court had to stand the matter down to await his arrival. Vandi is now being represented by Mr. Adetokunbo Odutola.
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In furtherance of the commitment of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to ensure justice in the matter, the President of the Bar, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yakubu Maikyau; the Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch, Ikechukwu Uwanna; and other executives of the association were also present in court to monitor proceedings.
As of the time of this report, the prosecution has called its first witness, a police officer, to testify.
Vandi is accused of shooting Raheem dead on Christmas Day. In company with his team, the cop who was attached to Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah allegedly tried to stop the lawyer and her family members as they drove back home from a church service.
Raheem was said to have been shot when the driver of the car she was in was attempting a U-turn under the Ajah Bridge. The victim was rushed to a hospital but was confirmed dead.
The tragedy led to nationwide outrage, prompting the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, to recommend Vandi’s suspension on December 28.
According to Baba, the suspension is expected to create an enabling environment for necessary legal procedures to uphold justice in the case without interference.
The Police Service Commission (PSC) approved the suspension with immediate effect on December 29.
The following day, the Lagos State Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN, filed a one-count charge against Vandi for Raheem’s murder, applying for the remand of the defendant.
The magistrate granted the request to remand the defendant at the Ikoyi Correctional Centre and ordered that the case file be duplicated and sent to the Director of Public Prosecution, Dr. Jide Martins for legal advice.