Members of the Apo Traders Association and families of the six murdered Igbo traders stormed the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), to register their displeasure over the judgment of an FCT High Court, which sentenced two of the six prosecuted Police officers to death.
The aggrieved protesters criticised the judgment read by the Chief Judge of the FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello, on Thursday, where two Police officers, Ezekiel Acheneje and Emmanuel Baba, were sentenced to death for killing two of the six Igbo traders in Abuja on June 8, 2005.
The two policemen were found guilty of the extra-judicial killing of Augustina Arebun and Anthony Nwokike at the Gaduwa Estate of Abuja.
Chairman of the association, Chimezie Ifeh, who led the aggrieved protesters, said they were opposed to the court judgment, saying: “The real culprits of the gruesome of murder of the ‘Apo Six’ are left of the hook.
“It was Danjuma Ibrahim, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), 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.
“The two people that were sentenced were acting under instructions from Danjuma. So, I don’t see the reason why Danjuma would be free and the two other policemen would be sentenced to death.
“Why did the court set Danjuma free and sentenced the two to death? We are not happy; we don’t understand. We are praying the minister to look into the matter.”
A brother to one of the deceased, Mr. Edwin Meniru, told journalists that his brother’s death left the family devastated.
He disclosed that his father died one year after his brother’s death, following the shock from the gruesome murder of Chinedu, whom he said his father loved so much.
The peaceful protest, which began from the premises of the FCT High Court at Maitama, terminated at the Ministry of Justice with a call on the minister to properly review the case with a view to appeal against it.
The protesters 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 in the ministry, Mr. Tahir Hamza, commended them for the orderly manner they carried out the protest, promising that the AGF would look into their grievances.
He appealed to the aggrieved families to remain law abiding, promising that the judgment would be studied and appropriate steps taken to address the issues.
Justice Bello, while delivering judgment in a nine-count criminal charge brought against the six policemen by the Federal Government, said the court had no option than to convict the two men on account of their own confessional statements that they shot the two traders upon instruction from a superior officer.
Justice Bello said the action of the two policemen was callous and barbaric, because by law, they were supposed to preserve lives of innocent citizens.
The three freed policemen, including Danjuma (alleged to have given orders to the two convicted police men to kill the traders), 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 said 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 June 7, 2005 while returning from a night club along Gimbiya Street in Area 12 of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).