Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend”
-William Shakespeare [Sonnet 60]
- It gives me NO pleasure, to be standing here today to render this tribute to our learned friend – Mrs. Omobolanle Raheem. This is one of the hardest and most unpleasant assignments I have had to undertake as President of the NBA. Never did I expect that I would have to pay tribute to a colleague whose life was cut short by an officer of the law. I did not know Bolanle personally – I do not think we ever met, but our lack of acquaintance has not made her death any less painful for me.
- It is rather unfortunate and regrettable that the right to life has become one of the most abused rights in Nigeria today. Daily we are confronted with the mindless killing of innocent citizens, on the one hand by the various non-state actors operating in different parts of the country – armed robbers, unknown gunmen, bandits, herdsmen, militants, etc., and then on the other hand, we have law enforcement agents, who have the sworn duty to protect lives and properties, contributing to the loss of countless lives. And so it happened that on 25 December 2022, Bolanle became one of the victims of extrajudicial killings by the police when, on her way back from church after the Christmas service, in the company of her husband, sister and child, she was shot by a trigger-happy police officer. She did not deserve to die in that manner – no one deserves to die like that!
- Bolanle’s death is one death too many! She is just but one of the many Nigerians who have lost their lives at the hands of those who
swore to protect them. While we commend our security agencies for their efforts in discharging their constitutional mandate within the very limited resources available to them, with many of them paying the supreme price in the course of their work, we cannot afford to be silent over their excesses. We must take action to stop the occurrence of these very ugly and frightening incidents and it is my hope that Bolanle’s death will be the catalyst for the change we need!
- Omobolanle was a member of the Lagos Branch of the NBA until the time of her untimely death; she was one of us. But that is not the sole reason we have chosen to hold this event in her memory and in her honour. This ceremony is being held today because, Omobolanle, in her death, has become the enduring symbol of all innocent Nigerians who lost their lives at the hands of the police and other security agencies. Our tribute today is therefore not only to mourn our departed colleague and other citizens, but also to re- affirm our commitment to ensure that justice is done in their cases.
- In the first statement issued by the Nigerian Bar Association on 26 December 2022 – the day after the incident, I stated, amongst other things, that: “The NBA will not only get to the root of this incident, we will uproot it and take steps to deal with anyone found culpable in every lawful way. We will ensure that this does not happen to any citizen anymore.”
- I am therefore restating the unequivocal commitment of the Nigerian Bar Association to ensure that what happened to Bolanle does not happen to another citizen of this country again. It does not matter whether a Nigerian is in Kotangora, Abakaliki, Ajah or Ile- Ife; every person’s life is sacred and must be protected by all officers and agencies of government. I thank President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR; the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2, AIG Adeleke Adeyinka Bode; the Honourable Attorney General of the State, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN; the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi and all other stakeholders and personnel of the various government
departments, for their commitment and concerted efforts to seeing that justice is served in this case and for the cooperation the Bar has received so far.
- The sudden demise of our beloved colleague, Bolanle, is a stark reminder to us of the fleetingness of life. While we pray and work to ensure that no one else dies in the way she was taken from us, we nonetheless know that death is the end of every mortal and the time of its occurrence for each of us, is something we are not privy to. Therefore, as we mourn today, I enjoin us to also reflect on our own lives; let us contemplate our mortality, our sincerity, and our eternity. Knowing that life on earth is transient and one day when our life is over, we would all stand to give account of our sojourn on this side of eternity.
- Having this in mind, let us see to it that we walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5: 15 – 16). Bolanle went to church and never returned home, it could have been any of us. We must, therefore, remain conscious of the truth that the life we live is transient, we must always look up to God to “… teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
- I commiserate with the family of our colleague on this very painful loss. It is sad that her husband, child, and sister were present when she was so violently murdered. I can only imagine the pain and trauma of not just losing a loved one, but also having to witness the ugly crime. This must have been a harrowing experience for you all. I feel your pain, I feel your agony, and it is my prayer that the Almighty God will abide with you all in this time of grief and continue to assure you of His faithfulness and goodness despite what has happened. May the Holy Spirit; the God of all comfort, comfort you now and always, and may the peace of God which is beyond human understanding, protect your hearts and minds through Christ our Lord, Amen.
- We miss you Bolanle. We are pained by your sudden demise. We miss the physical fellowship, but we take comfort in the words of the scripture which guarantees that when we exit our earthly house – our bodies, we only fall asleep and we shall continue to live in eternity with the Lord. I therefore commend us to the following words of the scripture:
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words”. (1 Thessalonians 4: 13 – 18).
- Continue to rest in the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ, Omobolanle, until we meet again to part no more.
Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN