The five policemen charged with the extrajudicial killing of six Apo traders in 2005 will on Monday know their fate as Justice Ishaq Bello of the Federal Capital Territory High Court will deliver judgment on the matter.
The police officers, including Danjuma Ibrahim, Othman Abdulsalami (currently at large), Nicholas Zakaria, Ezekiel Acheneje, Baba Emmanuel, and Sadiq Salami, have been standing trial for the murder of the six traders in Abuja almost 12 years ago.
The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation has charged the five police officers with the killing of Ifeanyi Ozo, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike and Augustina Arebun.
The deceased traders, aged between 21 and 25 years, were returning from a night party in 2005, when they were allegedly killed by the policemen. The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, making the trial to go through full stretch of adjudication from 2005 to date.
The six traders were allegedly killed by the policemen on the night of June 7, 2005, when the popular “Apo six’’ victims were on their way from a night club in the city. The nation woke up the next day to the shocking news of the traders’ death in the hands of the policemen, who claimed the six victims were armed robbers who opened fire on them but were eventually over-powered and gunned down.
The murder case, which came to be known as the ‘Apo Six,’ captured the attention of the public for a long time. Following the killing of the traders and the subsequent public outcry, an official panel of inquiry was set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Five policemen accused of the murder and eight other police witnesses eventually testified that the senior officer involved, Ibrahim allegedly ordered the killings. The report of the panel held that the victims were at a nightclub located at Gimbiya Street, Area 11 in Abuja on the night of the incident.
The panel further had it on its record that the face-off between Ibrahim and the group allegedly 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 that Ibrahim’s pride and ego was bruised by late Augustina’s refusal to accept his love proposal and, therefore, set out for revenge. The report also said Ibrahim had allegedly gone ahead to a police checkpoint at the end of the street and told officers on duty that there were 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 came in their car, Ibrahim allegedly double crossed them, blocking their way and ordered the police officers to shoot. Four of the six victims died on the spot, while Ifeanyi and Augustina had survived the initial onslaught.
The report had it that Ifeanyi succeeded in putting a call through to his friends after surviving the initial burst of gunfire, but that was the last they heard from him. Police officers had testified at the criminal trial that Ifeanyi and Augustina were taken to an open ground in the outskirts of the FCT, where they were executed.