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Published On: Sun, Mar 12th, 2017

Apo Six Murder: Police May Reabsorb Freed Cops as Outrage Trail Judgement

LAGOS MARCH 12TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Indications have emerged that police officers and men acquitted in the celebrated trial for the murder of six Igbo traders in Abuja in 2005 may be reabsorbed into the service of Nigeria Police Force.
The four officers who had been dismissed from the force since initial investigations established that the accused policemen had a case to answer will, however, have to apply to the Police Service Commission for a review of their cases having been cleared by the court.

This position emerged following Independent’s enquiry from the police high command on what becomes the fate of the policemen whom the court has cleared of the murder trial.
Speaking with our correspondent, the Force Police Public Relations Officer (FPPRO), Mr. Moshood Ishola, a Chief Superintendent of Police, said: “For those acquitted of the charges against them, the police may consider an appeal from them for reinstatement into the force”.
But Ishola insisted that all the policemen at the moment remain dismissed.
Two policemen, Emmanuel Baba and Ezekiel Acheneje, were found guilty and condemned to death on March 9, 2017 for the killing of two of the six victims, Augustina Arebu ?and Anthony Nwokike, in a judgement delivered at an Abuja high court, presided over Justice Ishaq Bello, the Chief Judge of the FCT, while four other officers were let off. Of the four freed officers, Othman Abdulsalam, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Apo Police Station in Garki had been on the run and had no representation during the course of the trial that lasted 12 years. The other three who walked out of the court free that day were Danjuma Ibrahim, a deputy commissioner of police, (also on the run), Nicholas Zakaria and Sadiq Salami. The court had held that there were no sufficient evidence to established their culpability.
More outrage has continued to trail the court judgement from people who believe that the trial was flawed.
Right activists, members of the public and a civil society organisation have joined in condemning the handling of the multiple murder.
The contention is that the judgment was rigged to let off the hook, criminal masterminds of the dastardly acts.
The police, however, stated that it is done with the case and officers involved in the matter are already dismissed.
Reacting to the judgment, Okechukwu Nwanguma, national coordinator, Network of Police Reform in Nigeria, NOPRIN, stated that
the cause of justice had not been served in any way on the matter.
“The prime suspect then, DSP Ibrahim Danjuma, who ordered the killing was granted bail on dubious health ground while the then DPO of Garki Police Station, where they were murdered in cold blood ‘escaped’ from custody and has remained at large till date. Equal justice demands that all the culprits are brought to justice,” Nwanguma said.
Ironically, Justice Bello’s judgment hinted at the police bungling the case even at the investigations level.
The judge, for instance, said that the case of Ibrahim, who was alleged to have seized an AK 47 and shot the traders in their Peugeot
406 on that fateful day, collapsed in the face of contradictions from two prosecution witnesses that Mr. Ibrahim never seized a gun or fired at the traders.
The judge added that if the fingerprint of the deputy police commissioner had been taken, it could have been established whether he
handled the AK 47 used in killing the traders on the day of the incident.
On the other four victims shot to death, the judge said the issue remained ambiguous and vague because the prosecution was unable to establish those responsible for their murder.
Reacting to these lapses, Emmanuel Onwubiko, national coordinator, Human Right Writers Association, HURIWA, stated that the judgment was “funny”.
“More or less, it appeared as if those with high level connection were left off the hook while those who have no godfathers would face the music,”
“Who was the leader of the squad that killed those boys and the girl?,” asked a bemused Owunbiko.
The police authority, however, insists it would not comment on the judgment for now stating that the police officers involved in the matter have since been dismissed. “For those acquitted of the charges against them, the police may consider an appeal from them for reinstatement into the force. But for now they remain dismissed,” said CSP Ishola Moshood, Police Force Public Relations Officer.
On 7, June 2005, the victims of Apo six killings, Ekene Isaac Mgbe, Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike, and Augustina Arebu, were said to be returning from a night club when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.
According to a panel’s report, which formed the bulk of the evidence in court, Mr. Ibrahim allegedly had the car blocked and ordered the officers to shoot at the occupants. Four of the six died on the spot, but two of them, Mr. Nwokike and Ms. Arebu, survived the initial
They were later killed by the two convicted police officers in the early hours of June 8 on the grounds that they attempted to escape.
Daily Independent

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