Who is Rinji Bala – another victim of brutality of Nigeria’s security officers

Rinji Peter Bala was a 20-year-old student of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) in Plateau State who was shot dead by a Nigerian soldier.

Rinji who was fondly called “Bobo” by his friends was a 300 level student of History and International Studies in UNIJOS before he was murdered. He was shot dead by one of the soldiers attached to the Special Task Force (STF) in May 2020.

Rinji was a native of Kanke Local Government in Plateau State. The incident that led to Rinji’s murder took place on May 12, 2020, on Zaria Road, Jos.

According to Nigerian journalist Matthew Tegha, Rinji Bala was first arrested alongside seven others by a local vigilante group for violating the lockdown order put in place in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic.

The vigilante men handed Rinji and the others to soldiers of the Special Task Force (STF) at Zaria Road, Stadium. Some of the reports said the vigilante men had suspected the boys were part of a criminal gang, hence the decision to take them to soldiers.

One of the arrested seven boys whose name was not mentioned said they were tortured and questioned by soldiers at Army Sector 1. After the soldiers confirmed the boys were innocent and were not engaging in any form of criminal activity, they were released to go.

Things took a different turn shortly after. The soldiers told the boys to “run” and when they did, they opened fire on them, probably as a way to scare them off. Rinji was shot and killed in the process.

Rinji after he was shot

The others had kept on running and had gotten to a far distance before they realized Rinji was no longer with them. They ran back but it was already late – Rinji had bled to death from the gunshot wound.

Rinji’s death caused widespread anger among Nigerians and many took to different social media platforms to demand justice for the young boy. The hashtag #JusticeForRinji trended several hours on Twitter.

The governor of Plateau State Simon Lalong later ordered a full investigation into the murder of young Rinji. He assured angry Nigerians that all those found culpable in Rinji’s murder will be prosecuted.

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