A Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria has convicted and sentenced to death, two out of five policemen accused in the extrajudicial killings of six Apo traders in June 2005. Two of the policemen, standing trial, were sentenced to death, while three others were discharged.
In the judgement delivered today by Justice Ishaq Bello.Those condemned to death are Emmanuel Baba and Ezekiel Acheneje, while Danjuma Ibrahim, Nicholas Zakariah and Sadiq Salami were discharged.
The five were among the six arraigned over the killing of the traders on suspicion that they were armed robbers. The sixth person on the charge sheet, Othman Abdulsalam, who was the Divisional Police Officer in Apo, is on the run.
The victims, Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwodike and a female Augustina Arebun. aged between 21 and 25 years, were returning from a night party on the 7th, of June 2005 when they were killed. Following their deaths and the subsequent public outcry, an official panel of inquiry was set up by ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to unravel the story behind the killing.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the allegations, making the trial to go through full stretch of adjudication from 2005 to date. Provisions of Sections 97 and 221 (a) of the Penal Code Law with which the defendants were tried attracts death sentence, and today two of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death accordingly.
Justice Ishaq Bello while delivering judgment on today (Thursday) held that that the action of the convicted men was condemnable because there was no evidence that the traders did anything to constitute a threat to police at the time they were shot dead.