Apo six: 9th March is judgement day
Justice Ishaq Bello of the FCT High Court, on Monday adjourned till 9th March, judgment in the alleged extra judicial killing of six Apo traders in 2005.
The Attorney General of the Federation, who prosecuted the matter since 2005 charged six police officers to court for the alleged killing of the traders, now popularly referred to as the “Apo Six”.
The accused persons were arraigned on a nine-count charge of conspiracy and culpable homicide, which contravened the provisions of Sections 97 and 221 (a) of the Penal Code Law.
The police officers standing trial in the case were: Danjuma Ibrahim, Othman Abdulsalami , Nicholas Zakaria, Ezekiel Acheneje, Baba Emmanuel and Sadiq Salami.
They were charged with culpable homicide over alleged killing of the traders: Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwodike and Augustina Arebun.
At the adjourned date on Monday for the judgment, both the defence and prosecuting counsel were in court and the new date was taken for the judgment.
The deceased persons, aged between 21 years and 25 years, were returning from a night party in 2005 when they were allegedly killed.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the allegations, making the trial to go through full stretch of adjudication from 2005 to date, for 11 long years.
The date of the incident was 7th June, 2005, when the popular “Apo six’’ unaware of the terrible fate that lay ahead of them set out for a night of fun and merry making.
The nation woke up to the horrific news of their deaths at the hands of the policemen who claimed the five men and woman, gunned down were armed robbers who opened fire first on them.
The case which came to be known as ‘Apo Six’ was for a long time sustained by the media for a long time.
Following the deaths and the subsequent public outcry, an official panel of inquiry was set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Five officers accused of the killings 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 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 forms the bulk of the evidence in court, when the six young people came in their car, Ibrahim allegedly drove into them, blocking their way and ordered the police officers to shoot.
Four of the six died on the spot while Ifeanyi and Augustina had survived the initial onslaught.
The report had it that Ifeanyi had called his friends after surviving the burst of gunfire but that was the last they were to hear from him.
The police officers had testified at the criminal trial that Ifeanyi and Augustina were taken outside town where they were summarily executed.
The officers had allegedly planted guns on the bodies of all six of the bodies and pictures were taken of them by a police photographer.
The photographer who took the pictures was later to raise an alarm and released the pictures.
In a curious twist, Mr. 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.
By 9th March 2016 the nation will await an official court verdict on the matter.