Two out of the six policemen involved in the killing of six traders in Abuja on June 7, 2005, have been sentenced to death by Justice Ishaq Bello of the Federal High Court In Abuja more than 11 years after they committed the offence.
The remaining policemen were discharged.
Danjuma Ibrahim, Othman Abdulsalami, Nicholas Zakaria, Ezekiel Acheneje, Baba Emmanuel and Sadiq Salami, were arraigned on a nine-count charge of conspiracy and culpable homicide.
The victims – Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwodike and a female Augustina Arebun – were young traders aged between 21 and 25.
They were allegedly killed while returning from a night party in Abuja and their deaths sparked public outcry which led to then President Olusegun Obasanjo setting up a panel of inquiry to investigate the issue.
The report of the panel established that the victims were actually at a nightclub at Gimbiya Street, Garki Area 11 in Abuja on the night of the incident.
According to the panel’s report, a face-off had ensued between the policemen and the youths after the female victim, Augustina, allegedly turned down one of the policemen’s love advances at the club.
Baba Emmanuel (immediate left) and Ezekiel Acheneje (far right) were convicted, while the remaining were discharged.
The policeman, Ibrahim, was said to have been angered by the girl’s refusal and allegedly stormed out of the night club to a police checkpoint at the end of the street and told the officers on duty that he had sited a group of armed robbers in the area.
The panel’s report, which forms the bulk of the evidence in court, stated that when the six young people later arrived at the checkpoint in their car, 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, Ozor and Augustina, survived the initial onslaught, and according to the report, Ozor had immediately called to alert his friends after surviving the burst of gunfire. It was the last time they would hear from him.
A report by the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, said that the police officers later testified at the criminal trial that the two survivors were later taken to a location outside town where they were executed.
The officers allegedly later planted guns on the six bodies and had a photographer take their pictures claiming they were “armed robbers” killed in an exchange of gunfire with the police.
The photographer reportedly raise an alarm and released the pictures.
Also, Anthony Edem, a police officer close to the case, died shortly after testifying to extra-judicial killings.
Reports say an autopsy from the National Hospital Abuja confirmed that Edem died of poisoning.
NAN, reports that the provisions of Sections 97 and 221 (a) of the penal code law with which the defendants were tried attracts death sentence.