Prashant Kathpalia murder: Dubai tollgate footage shows final moments

Written by Staff Writer The videos provide new evidence of the final movements of Prashant Kathpalia, a 29-year-old hacker who was shot by security staff at a toll gate near Lekki Epe expressway on…

Prashant Kathpalia murder: Dubai tollgate footage shows final moments

Written by Staff Writer

The videos provide new evidence of the final movements of Prashant Kathpalia, a 29-year-old hacker who was shot by security staff at a toll gate near Lekki Epe expressway on June 1.

The heart of his killing, which has become emblematic of the potential dangers of extra-legal policing, continues to be unclear.

Eyewitness accounts, surveillance footage and media reports have varied greatly, and additional evidence from CCTV cameras may yet prove pivotal in the debate over Kathpalia’s death.

Some witnesses have claimed he intended to remove a security camera — something he was able to do from the crowded toll areas in darkness. His family have claimed he had just bought a new iPhone, as an upgrade from his old one, and was worried it had an affected it. His father has said his son had epilepsy and was not in a “fit state” to pose a threat, and that his death has left his family “profoundly distraught”.

In the CCTV footage, Kathpalia is seen crossing a road, then proceeding to walk towards the barrier. The footage does not show the moment he is shot, but was captured by the toll gates.

Kathpalia was running against the backdrop of a huge operation by the Lagos state government to drive undocumented Nigerians out of the country, in response to increased crime levels and high unemployment.

On June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria met with politicians from the state in an effort to defuse the atmosphere of tension and conflict sparked by Kathpalia’s death.

The meeting was, among other things, intended to focus on new measures to promote the protection of intellectual property in the wake of the decline of the Nigerian currency. Although in a statement following the meeting, Buhari said the government would “continue to engage with all those affected to effect amicable settlements” he promised his government “would take steps to ensure that the rights of business owners and Nigerians are protected and not abused”.

The Nigerian government launched a new national database of criminals in response to the growing presence of well-armed groups, and involved various state agencies in the expansion of the military, in an effort to tackle increasingly gang-driven illegal movements.

At the funeral on June 10, Anglican Archbishop of Lagos, Anglican Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Akah, was among those who criticized the expansion of the security forces as a violation of human rights.

“As we mourn the death of Prashant, we also demand the conduct of the security agencies not in a body bag,” he said.

Lekki toll gates closed following Kathpalia’s death Photograph: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images

Fearing further violence

The surveillance footage shows Kathpalia returning to the exit after spending a considerable amount of time, looking back at the cameras. After he turns around and walks back to where he started, he pauses before climbing the barrier and falling.

The toll gates have, without explanation, been closed since June 7, a claim confirmed by the state government.

The spokesperson for the Nigeria Police Force in Lagos, Jimoh Moshood, confirmed that an investigation into Kathpalia’s death had been opened, but said the authorities had not yet been able to obtain CCTV footage from the tollgate.

Kathpalia’s family have expressed confidence that his death will be officially investigated. “We expect that the truth will come out from the actual source,” said his mother, Janet Atanase.

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