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Lagos probes: Revisiting Sanwo-Olu’s penchant to deliver, not grandstand

By Segun Ajayi

I recall an argument that arose recently over the death of afrobeat rapper and singer, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba (well known as MohBad. I had gone to visit my barber and the discussion bothered on the probity of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led administration to probe into the musician’s death and still turn in the outcome. Memories of grief-stricken fans of the music star and some advocacy groups calling for investigation into the cause(s) of MohBad’s death over alleged negligence by the nurse who attended to him are still fresh.

Also fingered in an alleged conspiracy against late MohBad were the music duo of Abdulazeez Fashola (also known as Naira Marley) and Samson Balogun Eletu (popularly called Sam Larry).

Having latched on Naira Marley’s rumoured closeness to the governor, my barber and his friend brushed aside government’s intention as hogwash. “Naira Marley is Governor Sanwo-Olu’s man-Friday and nothing would happen”, they insisted. “Is it not this country? Which probe had ever seen the light of the day”, my barber exclaimed even as he dismissed my defence of the governor’s propensity to deliver on promises. But I stood my ground, and educated them by citing cases that had seen people, who differed from government eaten their words after government actions passed integrity tests.

Even as Nigerians await the results of autopsy on MohBad, Sanwo-Olu’s records as an empathiser and strict observer of due process are out there in line with the good governance leg of his administration’s T.H.E.M.E.S.+ agenda. He had done it before, and this one won’t be different. Even in tricky circumstances like the Lekki Toll Gate incident and cases of police brutality, Sanwo-Olu was the first to institute a probe.

The same cynicism initially trailed the investigation into collapse of the 21-storey building located on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi which happened on 1st November 2021. The governor demonstrated his administration’s resolve to ensure justice and good governance when he constituted a panel to investigate the collapse of the building. The move was tricky because a 21-floor luxury building in Ikoyi wasn’t a poor man’s meat. The collapsed structure, owned by Fourscore Heights Limited, recorded more than 44 fatalities including the firm’s Managing Director, Femi Osibona; his friend, Wale Bob-Oseni; his personal assistant, Oyinye Enekwe, and clients.

Amidst the rescue operations, Sanwo-Olu disclosed he had set up a panel to investigate the collapse of the building and it took just six weeks for the panel headed by renowned town planner, Mr. Toyin Ayinde to submit its report.

So, when the state government last year set up a nine-member committee in the aftermath of the bus-train collision at railway crossing at PWD area of Ikeja, on 9th March last year, little did critics believe the reports would be ready as soon as it did. The brief of the panel, which consisted of top public functionaries, was to identify the families of the deceased and their dependants, as well as the injured officers, and to determine appropriate compensation packages for each family and staff of the state government affected. By the time the committee submitted its findings few weeks ago, it revealed six fatalities from a total of 102 passengers involved in the accident. There were 85 passengers on board the staff bus, and 17 inside the train.

It must be stated the panel’s recommendations validated the transparency thrust of the Sanwo-Olu administration. Among the package for the victims were life insurance benefits for the deceased’s families and the injured, and provision of employment to one employable child of the deceased. Also contained in the report is an offer of concessionary scholarship to one of the deceased’s biological children. As for staff victims with permanent disability, succour came in form of benefits from the state’s Group Life Insurance Policy, among other enhancements.

Some Lagosians still reminisce with pains the gruesome murder of an expectant mother and lawyer, Mrs Bolanle Raheem by a trigger-happy policeman at the Ajah roundabout of Lagos State on Christmas day, 2022. Notably was the manner Sanwo-Olu rose to the grim reality of a family, whose joy suddenly turned to grief on a special day like Christmas.

A compassionate governor has not only ensured that justice was served but seen to be well served. The state government, through its immediate past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo preferred a one-count charge of murder against the defendant, Drambi Vandi. On Monday 9th October, 2023, Justice Ibironke Harrison of the state High Court sentenced the suspended Assistant Superintendent of Police to death by hanging, bringing to an end, a 10-month breath-taking murder trial.

Sanwo-Olu was first among the few who complied with the Federal Government directive by promptly putting together The Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution on the Lekki Toll Gate incident and cases of police brutality as well as human rights violations. After the panel wound up its sittings, the government ensured the implementation of the report in the form of payment of monetary compensations and recommendation for dismissal of policemen found culpable in the cases. It is on good record that the state government paid N410.2 million to 70 victims who gave evidence before the panel.

Ajayi, a public commentator, writes from Lagos

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