FJA Shortlist 2021

Category: Outstanding Investigative Reporting

Kemi Busari (Nigeria)

Blood on Uniforms Series

PREMIUM TIMES Nigeria - March 2021

Blood On Uniforms (1): Inside extra-judicial killings by police officers enforcing COVID-19 lockdown

The original publication is available via the following link: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/445952-blood-on-uniforms-1-inside-extra-judicial-killings-by-police-officers-enforcing-covid-19-lockdown.html

At least five people were shot dead while many others sustained gunshot injuries from police shootings in a Kaduna community.

By Kemi Busari

March 1, 2021

By Thursday, April 9, 2020, ten days after Nigeria entered a partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigerian security officials had extra-judicially killed 13 people while enforcing the curfew – the virus had only claimed six lives by then. By May 4, when the government eased the lockdown, about 20 persons had been killed in similar circumstances. For three months, investigative journalist Kemi Busari followed the trails of these arbitrary killings which have left many families devastated, with no hope of justice.

The journey between Layin Tanki, where Sani Umar lives, and his father’s residence at Sabon Garin Nasarawa, both at Trikania, Kaduna, takes only six minutes. Being the breadwinner of his extended family, Mr Umar frequently visited his father and other relatives. His intention, on April 4, 2020, was to do the routine.

He was about three minutes into the journey, by a google map estimation, when he was caught in a binge of gunfire unleashed by police officers at Bakin Dogo junction, the intersection of Gwagwada Road and Hakimi Road, just close to the railway line. Multiple slugs penetrated his cranial bones, smashing and exposing the internal organs and dismembering the skull.

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Blood on Uniforms (2): No justice for inmates killed by Nigerian prison officials

The original publication is available via the following link: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/446676-blood-on-uniforms-2-no-justice-for-inmates-killed-by-nigerian-prison-officials.html

Apart from killing the inmates and lying about it, the Nigeria Correctional Service also forced families of the victims to sign controversial undertaking documents.

In the second part of this series on extrajudicial killings during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria, Kemi Busari investigates the killing of an awaiting trial inmate at the Kaduna Correctional facility and why prison authorities refuse to release his body. 

Wisdom Felix has been dead for about 11 months now but his siblings would dare not break the news to his mother.

For one reason, Felicia, Cyprian and Doris believe such an announcement would worsen her health situation. Before Wisdom was arrested and taken to the Kaduna Correctional Centre in 2018, Mrs Ruth Felix was already suffering from high blood pressure and excess sugar among other ailments.

Her health status was aggravated by the news of her beloved son, Wisdom, being imprisoned and even made worse by the many futile attempts to get him out. She is now bedridden.

“The news will just kill her,” Wisdom’s elder brother, Cyprian, said, after agreeing to an interview at a location other than their house; to prevent their mum from finding out.

On the other hand, the circumstances surrounding his killing are so hideous its announcement would break even a hale being. At first, it was said that Wisdom was caught in the brawl between the correctional officers and rioting inmates. Then, the most corroborated account was that he was beaten by the warders for no just reason other than “they had the power to do so.”

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Blood on Uniforms (3): In Nigeria’s South-east, no justice for people killed during COVID-19 lockdown

The original publication is available via the following link: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/447496-blood-on-uniforms-3-in-nigerias-south-east-no-justice-for-people-killed-during-covid-19-lockdown.html

At least 20 people were extra-judicially killed by security operatives during the COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria last year.

This is the fourth part in a series on the extra-judicial killings that occurred during last year’s COVID-19 lockdown. 

Before she met her untimely death in April 2020, Lovender Elekwachi had served the Nigeria Police Force for 13 years.

Her journey to the police started on July 1, 2007, when she was recruited. She had risen to the rank of a sergeant and was due for a promotion in 2020 but a fellow officer terminated her life.

Lovender was on duty as a traffic warden at the Eneka Roundabout in Port-Harcourt, South-south Nigeria, when she was shot dead by a fellow officer identified as Bitrus Osaiah, also a sergeant.

The 35-year-old mother of one was on duty around 2 p.m. when members of the Rivers State Taskforce on Road Decongestion, Illegal Street Trading and Motor Parks arrived to disperse traders around the roundabout.

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Blood On Uniforms (5): 10-year-old dead after police raid on Jigawa market

The original publication is available via the following link: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/448933-blood-on-uniforms-5-10-year-old-dead-after-police-raid-on-jigawa-market.html

Residents say they heard gunshots, then everyone scampered for safety. Some moments later, Usman was found lying unconscious in the market, blood oozing out of his skull. He had been hit.

By Thursday, April 9, 2020, ten days after Nigeria entered a partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officers of the Nigeria police, army, correctional service and others had extra-judicially killed 13 people while enforcing the curfew – the virus had only claimed six lives by then. By May 4, when the government eased the lockdown, about 20 persons had been killed in similar circumstances. For three months, investigative journalist, Kemi Busari, followed the trails of these arbitrary killings which have left many families devastated, with no hope of justice.

When not in school, Usman Abdulkadir would either go for Arabic lessons, play with other children in his father’s compound or engage in this third activity, one many of his family members were not aware of.

“Usman was only a boy that was industrious,” said his father, Abdulkadir Sulaiman. “I did not know (he engages in this third activity) until after the incident. He was there, only helping people to put animals in the car. You buy a goat, he helps you put it, at least you give him N5. That way, he thought he could do something for himself.”

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