The families of six victims of extra-judicial killings by police officers that shook Abuja in 2005 have expressed disappointment over the reinstatement and ‘speedy’ promotion of one of the alleged arrowheads, a deputy commissioner of police (DCP), charged with the murders.
The then DCP, Ibrahim Danjuma, and four other officers were tried for the killing of the five automobile spare-parts dealers and a woman between the night of June 7 and 8, 2005.
The victims had spent time at a club on Gimbiya Street, Area 11, and were returning to their home in Apo neighbourhood when they encountered some police officers who opened fire on them after an altercation.
The police had initially said that the victims, whose ages were between 21-25 and included a woman, were armed robbers.
But a panel set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo to look into the matter dsimissed most of the accounts by the police and recommended Mr Danjuma and his men for trial.
The five officers and eight other witnesses testified before the panel that Mr Ibrahim, the most senior of the accused officers, allegedly ordered the killings.
All the officers were immediately placed on suspension by the police.
Twelve years later, two of the officers were convicted and sentenced to death, but the FCT High Court presiding judge, Ishaq Bello, said there was no evidence to convict Mr Danjuma and two others.
In November, 2017, the police confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Danjuma had been reinstated but said the reinstatement was approved by the Police Service Commission which relied on the judgement of the FCT High Court that freed him after finding him not culpable.
Mr Danjuma’s rank was restored, his accumulated salaries from June 2005, were also paid with plans to send him on a refresher course, a police memo published by Sahara Reporters showed.
In December, he was promoted from the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) to the rank of Commissioner of Police.
Not done yet, a few days ago, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris decorated Mr Danjuma with his new rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), according to Daily Trust Newspaper.
Victims’ families kick
Family members of some of the deceased persons are already protesting the perceived injustice.
“I am highly disappointed with the way the federal government and the judiciary system of Nigeria has treated the Apo six case,” Elvis Ozor, brother to one of the deceased said.
He described Mr Danjuma’s reinstatement and ‘speedy’ promotion by the police as a classic case of injustice and abuse of law.
“After all the facts that was gotten from the panel of inquiry indicting this same man, at the end of the day, justice was not delivered and as if that is not enough this man was reinstated and even promoted to the rank of AIG.
“He was paid all his salaries up to date while we the family of the deceased is yet to be paid compensations from the government directly.
“We are disappointed. This shows that there is nothing like one Nigeria, it’s a camouflage statement. We are being neglected,” he said.
He, however, expressed resolve to keep “pushing and crying foul to this injustice done to me and my family. It is unacceptable.”
He also blamed the defence council for delaying an appeal on the case.
“How can six people commit a crime and they only sentenced two, leaving the main pillar of the case, Ibrahim Danjuma?” Monica Arebu, the mother of the only female victim queried.
“Now I hear he has been reinstated and promoted. This is unfair,” she added.
Mrs Arebu said all efforts geared towards appealing the judgement has been “slowed down by legal processes”.
AGF Stalls Appeal
The March 9 judgement by the FCT High Court on the matter can be appealed but it is only the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, that can either appeal the ruling or issue an ‘extended fiat’ to another lawyer to go ahead with the appeal.
Over a year later, Mr Malami has refused to do either.
One of the lawyers of the victims’ families, Kanayo Okafor, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday explained how the inaction of the office of the attorney-general in issuing the fiat has delayed the appeal.
“That matter is a fiat matter. We made a request to the then AGF who had given us fiat to pursue the case when it came up in 2005. The AGF then was Bayo Ojo, he issued fiat to us to deal with it and we are done with that in the trial court.
“If we are to appeal now, we need another fiat. We have made recommendation to that effect to the AGF but nothing has been done. The AGF is yet to respond,” Mr Okafor said.
In March 2017, family members of the victims stormed the AGF’s office to register their displeasure over the judgment of the high court.
While protesting, the leader of the aggrieved families, Chimezie Ifeh, who is also the Chairman of Apo Traders Association, condemned the court’s decision.
Mr. Ifeh said, “the real culprits of the gruesome murder of the Apo Six were let off the hook.”
Mr Malami rejected repeated requests to seek his stance on the appeal and when it will be executed.
The Apo Six killings
The Apo Six case centered on the extra-judicial killing of five young traders and a woman, by police officers on the night of June 7, 2005.
The victims, Ekene Isaac Mgbe, Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike, and Augustina Arebu, were returning from a night club when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.
According to the report of the panel of inquiry, the victims were at a nightclub located at Gimbiya Street, Area 11, in Abuja that night when they had a face-off with Mr Ibrahim after the female victim, Ms Arebu, allegedly turned down romantic advances of the police officer.
Mr Ibrahim had allegedly stormed out of the night club to a police checkpoint at the end of the street and told the officers on duty that he had “sighted a group of armed robbers in the area”.
According to the report, which formed the part of the evidence in court, when the six unwary young persons later arrived at the checkpoint in their car, Mr Ibrahim allegedly had the car blocked and ordered the officers to shoot at the occupants after an argument.
Four of the occupants of the car died on the spot, but two of them, Mr Nwokike and Ms Arebu, survived the onslaught.
They were later allegedly finished off by the two convicted police officers in the early hours of June 8 on the grounds that “they attempted to escape from custody”.