• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Family of Nigerian student killed in Canada demand answers

Nigerian student shot dead by Canadian police sparks demands for justice

The family of Stephen Afolabi Opaso, a Nigerian international student in Canada who was shot dead by the police in Manitoba on the eve of 2024 have demanded a thorough investigation of the incident leading to his death.

Stephen’s sisters, who travelled to Canada to lay him to rest see his death as unexpected and unjustified. They demand transparency and accountability in understanding the circumstances surrounding his death.

“I never would have imagined that in my lifetime, I will be coming to Manitoba to bury my brother. It’s been the toughest thing I have had to do in my life,” Yemisi Opaso, Stephen’s eldest sibling said.

“I’m filled with a lot of confusion. I have a lot of questions, I need answers. We want justice for our brother,” she added.

The unfortunate incident involved the killing of Opaso, a student of the University of Manitoba by the Winnipeg Police Service after receiving a distress call from an apartment suite of an armed male acting “erratically”.

His roommates had called 911 to take him to the hospital because he was hurting himself.

Opaso, who was allegedly experiencing a mental health crisis is reported to have been wielding two knives upon enconter with the Winnipeg police.

From an audio retrieved from eyewitnesses, Police yelled “Drop the knife” before firing 3 shots at the victim eventually leading to his passing.

“We just want to know what really transpired, what really happened. Afolabi was shot three times, three times. It’s just too much to take it. We are hoping that they give us all the answers that we need, because we don’t want this to take forever. We need closure,” Yemisi said.

Investigations, which were initially undertaken by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) were taken over by Alberta’s police watchdog Alberta Serious Response Team (ASIRT).

“It’s not our job to investigate so we preserve the scene, preserve the witnesses and notify the IU,” the Winnipeg police reported.

The Opasos’ lawyer, Jean-René Dominique Kwilu disagrees with the manner in which the situation was handled by the police considering the circumstance of the distress call.

“They [his roommates] said he was no threat, he was no harm. “This is our friend, this our mate. We just need assistance.” They were just trying to get him help. Is there any way it could have been escalated even if it was erratic?

“He was young. He was sent here to get a degree now he will be returning home in a coffin. That’s really the sad part for the family,” said Kwilu.

Stephen’s family mourn his death with disappointment. They relay dismal feelings at the thought of his passing and believe justice alone will bring them peace.

“We miss him so so much. Since December 31st, all I had is sleepless nights. I’m always thinking about him,” Yemisi said.

“Up until now, I don’t believe he [Stephen] is no more. It’s really difficult to come to the terms that he is no longer alive. Folabi is very dear to us and all his friends in Nigeria,” said Bukola Opaso, another of Stephen’s elder siblings.

“It’s not like it’s going to bring him back but we’re going to feel a sense of satisfaction that he didn’t die in vain.”