By Charles Ogbu
Today makes it 15 years since 5 Igbo traders along with their female friend were brutally murdered by men of the Nigerian Police Force led by then Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Danjuma Ibrahim at a police checkpoint in Gimbiya street, area 11, Garriki, Abuja because the female victim turned down the romantic overtures of the senior Police officer, Danjuma at a night club in the city.
The 5 Igbo traders’ names were
(2) Chinedu Meniru
(3) Anthony Nwokike
(4) Paulinus Ogbonna
(5) Ekene Isaac Mgbe and
(6) Augustina Arebu the only female victim and fiance to Ifeanyi Ozor. All six were traders at the Apo auto spare parts market, Abuja.
They were killed because DCP Danjuma made romantic advances to the only lady among them, Augustina Arebu, at a night club, which she turned down. A minor disagreement ensued between the guys and the officer who stormed out of the night club to the nearby police checkpoint at Gimbiya street where he told the police men on duty that there were armed robbers in the area. When the APO6 drove to the checkpoint, officer Danjuma reportedly blocked them with his vehicle and ordered the junior police men on duty to open fire on them.
The police men obeyed.
Four of the APO6 were killed on the spot. The remaining two, the lady and one of the five young men, were killed the following day.
The lady, Augustina Arebu, whose rejection of Danjuma’s sexual invite caused the whole murder was personally strangled to death by DCP Danjuma. This is according to the findings of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo which was headed by justice O.O Goodluck.
Immediately after the killings, the Nigerian police went to work in a desperate bid to cover up this despicable crime.
First, officer Danjuma Ibrahim got arms from the Garriki police station and planted inside the Peugeot 406 car of the victims and got their official photographer to take the picture with a view to creating a false narrative that the innocent traders were armed robbers killed by the Police during a shoot out.
However, both the Administrative panel of Inquiry set up by the Police and the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Federal govt of Chief Obasanjo all established that DCP Danjuma led other officers and men in killing the six victims including strangling the only female amongst them and burying their bodies in shallow graves in what the Commission described as “a continuous single exercise of elimination to conceal facts”
The commission established the following facts:
1. The Peugeot 406 being driven by one of the deceased persons had six occupants including the driver; five males and one female.
2. The police buried the corpses of the six deceased persons in two shallow graves at Utako District of Abuja Fct under the supervision of DPO of Garki police, CSP Othman Abdusalam (still missing) at the ratio of 4:2
3. At the first point of contact between the police and the deceased persons at Gimbiya Street, Abuja, Area 11 Garki Abuja, not all the deceased persons were killed there.
4. No shooting came from the Peugeot 406 car being driven by one of the deceased.
5. The only female occupant of the 406 car was strangled to death by DCP Danjuma Ibrahim and PC Dennis Asawa.
6. The two locally made pistols, two live cartridges, two expended cartridges, cutlass and daggers allegedly found in the Peugeot 406 car were planted by the runaway DPO Garki police station, CSP Othman Abdusalam.
7. From the ballistician’s report, the two expended cartridges were never shot from any locally made pistols allegedly planted by the DPO Garki police station CSP Othman Abdusalam in the Peugeot 406 car.
8. The two locally made pistols allegedly found in the Peugeot 406 car being driven by one of the deceased persons had not been shot/fired in six months prior to the ballistician examination.
9. That the two locally made pistols allegedly found in the Peugeot 406 car were in fact recovered from a hotel in Abuja called Rita Lori hotel, more than two weeks before the incident of the Apo six killing of June 8,2005.
10. That the two locally made pistols on request by DPO Garki police station CSP Othman Abdusalam were brought from the armoury of the Garki police station by the armourer by name inspector Ishaya Nyaiwak and given to him who in turn planted them inside the Peugeot 406 car being driven by one of the six deceased persons.
11. That the deceased persons were not armed robbers since no gun(s) were found on them nor did they shoot at the police at the check point in Gimbiya street Area 11 Garki Abuja.
12. The only escapee from the gruesome killings by the police both at the Gimbiya street Area 11 Garki and beside Prince and Princess Estate Gaduwa Abuja was arrested and killed by 7:30am on the 8th of June, 2005 by the Nigeria Police Force.
13. That the autopsy report showed conclusively that the deceased were killed by high velocity missiles consistent with bullet shots.
14. That inspector Suleiman Audu, the head of the police patrol team at Gimbiya street Area 11 Garki refused to shoot at the Peugeot 406 car.
15. That the policeman (late PC Anthony Idam) who mysteriously died a day before he was to testify before the police Administrative Board of inquiry was poisoned according to the autopsy report.
On the basis of the incontrovertible evidence adduced before the Judicial Commission of inquiry, the commission held that they were not left in doubt about the complicity of the following persons in the unlawfully killings of the 6 deceased, namely;
1. DCP Danjuma Ibrahim;
2. DPO Othman Abdusalam
3. Inspector Suleiman Audu
4. Ezekiel Acheneje
5. PC Sadiq Salami
6. PC Dennis Asawa
7. Emmanuel Baba and;
8. ASP Nicholas Zachariah.
The commission went on to recommend that they should all be tried in accordance with the appropriate law. The federal government accepted this recommendations and issued a White Paper. The police force was instructed to take the necessary disciplinary action against the 8 persons including DCP Danjuma and the DPO of APO police station who supplied the weapon planted in the car of the traders, Othman Abdulsalami, and ensure they were all charged for murder. President Obasanjo tendered apology to the families of the victims and even paid compensation.
Now let us briefly look at the no15 in the list of the recommendation of the Judicial Commission of inquiry which is to the effect that a police constable Anthony Edem, who was part of the killer squad and had earlier testified against the police and was scheduled to testify again the coming Monday died on a Sunday night after going out to drink with some of his fellow policemen the previous Saturday. An autopsy report from Abuja national hospital found out he was poisoned.
In a nutshell, the Nigerian Police Force, after killing 6 innocent traders simply because the love overtures of one of one of her officers was turned down, went as far as poisoning one of its own just to cover up her crime! Read that again. SLOWLY, this time.
In a cell right inside the Police Headquarters (Louis Edet House) where the APO DPO, Othman, was kept pending his day in court, he left his cell one morning purportedly to go pray and simply ‘disappeared’
Till today, that killer officer was never brought to trial.
Three years ago, Justice Ishaq Bello of the FCT High Court, Abuja, sentenced two junior police men to death for the APO 6 killing after they confessed to killing the APO6 on the Orders of DCP DANJUMA but the same court said there was not enough evidence to convict the senior officer Danjuma who the convicted officers and even the Police panel of inquiry as well as the judicial commission of inquiry all fingered as the one who initiated, ordered and supervised the whole killings
DCP Danjuma has since been officially re-instated into the Nigerian police force via a Police Wireless Message intercepted by Sahara-Reporters (as reproduced below). This killer officer has been paid all arrears of salaries and other entitlements dating back to 2005 and sent on a refresher course. As I type, DANJUMA HAS BEEN PROMOTED TO AN ASSISTANT INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (AIG). Chances are, he might become the Inspector General of Police someday.
Meanwhile, according to legal experts, 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 (AGF), Abubakar Malami, that can either appeal the ruling or issue an ‘extended fiat’ to another lawyer to go ahead with the appeal. 3 years later, Mr Malami has refused to do either.
And so the endless search for justice lingers on. But we remember, never to forget.