*What happened to the real culprits?
Family members of the six Igbo traders who were murdered in Abuja in June 2005, on Friday stormed the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to register their displeasure over the judgment of an Abuja High Court.
The court had sentenced to death two out of the six police officers who were initially charged for their complicity in the killings.
Justice Ishaq Bello of the FCT High Court in Abuja had on Thursday sentenced two police officers Ezekiel Acheneje and Emmanuel Baba to death for killing two of the six Igbo traders in Abuja on 8th June, 2005.
The two policemen were found guilty of extra-judicial killing of Augustina Arebun and Anthony Nwokike at the Gaduwa Estate of Abuja.
Delivering judgment in a 9-count criminal charge brought by the Federal Government against the six policemen, the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) judiciary, Justice Bello had said that the court had no option than to convict the two men on account of their own confessional statement that they shot the two traders upon instruction from a superior officer.
Justice Bello said that the action of the two policemen was callous and barbaric because by law, they were supposed to preserve life of innocent citizens.
However three other policemen including a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Alhaji Danjuma Ibrahim, Othman Abdulsalami and Sadiq Salami who were charged with conspiracy and culpable homicide contrary to sections 97 and 221 of the Penal Code were discharged and acquitted by the court for want of evidence.
Justice Bello had said that from the totality of the evidence placed before the court, the charge of conspiracy cannot be established against the freed policemen because of the inability of the prosecution to convince the court that the men met and agreed to kill the six traders on 7th June, 2005 while returning from a night club along Gimbiya street in the area 11 of the FCT.
While protesting on Friday, the leader of the aggrieved protesters, Chief Chimezie Ifeh who is also the Chairman of Apo Trades Association, vehemently opposed the court’s decision on the matter.
Ifeh queried the propriety of the court judgment, saying, “the real culprits of the gruesome of murder of the Apo Six are left of the hook.”
According to him, “It was DCP Danjuma Ibrahim that orchestrated and executed our brothers and sister. But the same police officer and his cohorts were freed on Thursday by the court.
“We urge the AGF to appeal against the judgment and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.”
A brother to one of the deceased Apo six victims, Mr. Edwin Meniru told journalists that his brother’s death left the family devastated.
He disclosed that his father had died following shock from the gruesome murder of Chinedu Meniru, whom he said the father loved so much.
The peaceful protest which began from the premises of the FCT High Court at Maitama terminated the Federal Ministry of Justice with a call on the minister to properly review the case with a view to appeal against it.
The protesters who carried placards and banners with various inscriptions such as, “We want justice done in Apo Six killings, DCP Danjuma Ibrahim can’t go scot-free,” among others.
Addressing the protesters on behalf of the AGF, Director of Legal Drafting at the Federal Ministry of Justice in Abuja, Mr. Tahir Hamzam, thanked the aggrieved families of the Apo Six for the orderly manner in which they carried out the protest.
The AGF promised to look into the grievances of the protesting families.
He appealed to the aggrieved families to remain law abiding, promising that judgment would be studied and appropriate steps would be taken to address the issues.