Five policemen accused of extrajudicial killings of six Apo traders in 2005, will today know their fate, as Justice Ishag Bello of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), High Court delivers judgment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Danjuma Ibrahim, Othman Abdulsalami (now at large), Nicholas Zakaria, Ezekiel Acheneje, Baba Emmanuel and Sadiq Salami were alleged to have murdered the six traders: Ifeanyi Ozo, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike and Augustina Arebun (female).
The deceased, aged between 21 years and 25 years, were returning from a night party in 2005 when they were killed at a police checkpoint.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the allegations, making the trial to go through full stretch of adjudication from 2005 to date.
On June 7, 2005, the traders, now referred to as ‘Apo 6,’ had gone for a night and on their way home they were shot dead by policemen, who claimed they were armed robbers.
Following public outcry, an official panel of inquiry was set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. The five accused police officers and eight other police witnesses testified that the senior officer involved, Ibrahim, ordered the killing.
The panel reported that the victims attended a nightclub at Gimbiya Street, Area 11 in Abuja on the night of the incident. It also said the face-off between Ibrahim and the victims started when the female victim (Augustina) turned down the senior police officer’s love advances at the club.
The testimonies of the witnesses that formed part of the panel’s report also said Ibrahim’s ego was bruised by the late Augustina’s refusal to accept his love proposal and, therefore, set out to exact revenge. The panel reported that Ibrahim went to a police checkpoint on the street and told officers on duty that there was a group of armed robbers in the area.
According to the report, which formed the bulk of the evidence in court, when the six young people arrived at the checkpoint in their car, Ibrahim blocked their way and ordered the police officers to shoot.
Four of the six traders died on the spot, while Ifeanyi and Augustina survived the initial onslaught. The two survivors were taken away by the police and executed.
The officers allegedly planted guns on the bodies of the six traders, giving the impression that they were armed robbers.
In a curious twist, Anthony Edem, one of the officers close to the case, was poisoned after deciding to confess. An autopsy report from the National Hospital, Abuja confirmed he died of poisoning, which also formed part of the numerous exhibits before the court.