WHAT HOPE HAS NIGERIA, WHEN MEN LIKE DCP DANJUMA IBRAHIM WEAR POLICE UNIFORM?
n 7 and 8 June, 2005, six young Nigerians, 5 men and one woman of Igbo extraction, Ekene Isaac Mgbe, Ifeanyin Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Paulinus Ogbonna and Anthony and Augustina Arebu were murdered in cold blood by members of Nigerian police led by Deputy Commissioner of Police Danjuma Ibrahim.
The case became known as the APO 6, because the innocent victims were auto spare parts dealers in Apo Abuja. They were killed because DCP Danjuma Ibrahim was turned down by Augustina Arebu, when he made romantic advances to her at a night club. A disagreement ensued between the men and DCP Danjuma Ibrahim.
DCP Danjuma Ibrahim left the night club to a nearby police checkpoint and told the police men on duty that there were armed robbers in the area.
When the APO6 drove to the checkpoint, DCP Danjuma Ibrahim blocked them with his vehicle and ordered the junior police officers on duty to open fire on them. The police men on duty obeyed and 4 of the APO6 were killed on the spot. The remaining two, the lady and one of the 5 young men , were killed the following day.
The lady, Augustina Arebu, whose rejection of Danjuma's sexual advances was the reason for the evil hatched by DCP Danjuma Ibrahim was personally strangled to death by DCP Danjuma Ibrahim. These are the facts as established at the trial.
One would think that Nigerians would be outraged and demand for justice. Many did indeed speak out and then lost interest because the victims were not from their ethnic group or religion. Many also assumed that this would be a straight forward case and that the police would be interested in clearing its name and upholding the civil, rule of law and moral values, which all police forces are expected to uphold. However, nothing prepared me for the outcome of this case.
What happened afterwards was a concerted and brazen effort by the police to cover up the crime. First, the police planted weapons in the car of the APO6 and brought a photographer to take picture, which they distributed to newsmen claiming that the innocent traders were armed robbers.
At the panel of inquiry set up by the then president Olusegun Obasanjo, the police men who took part in the killing all confessed their role. They told the panel that it was DCP Danjuma Ibrahim who ordered them to shoot the victims.
The govt panel recommended that 5 police officers including DCP Danjuma and the DPO of APO police station,Othman Abdulsalami who supplied the weapon planted in the car of the traders, , should stand trial.
However, during the panel hearing a police man, Anthony Edem, who had earlier testified against the police and was scheduled to testify again on the next date died the night after going out to drink with some of his fellow policemen. An autopsy report from Abuja national hospital found out that he was poisoned. None of the police men he went out with were investigated.
In a cell inside the police headquarters (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'. He has not been brought to trial.
In May 2017, 12 years after the crime, ago, the trial Justice Ishaq Bello, a northerner and a Muslim sentenced two junior police officers Ezekiel Acheneje and Emmanuel Baba to death for the APO 6 killing after they confessed to killing the APO6 on the orders of DCP Danjuma Ibrahim.
However, the same Judge, a northerner and a Muslim, said there was not enough evidence to convict the Danjuma Ibrahim, Nicholas Zakaria, and Sadiq Salami and they were set free, discharged and acquitted by the court for lack of evidence.
The court and police have remained silent on the 6th accused, , Othman Abdulsalam, a Muslim from the north, who has been at large since the beginning of the case. This is a case where 6 police officers were accused of committing a heinous crime. The two junior officer who were not Muslims were convicted by a judge who is a Muslim and from the north, while the 3 senior police officers who are Muslims and from the north, and who hatched, instigated and gave order for the crime were acquitted. Is it just a coincidence that they acquitted men share the same religion and ethnicity with the trial judge?
On 2 November 2017, DCP Danjuma Ibrahim was re-instated into the police force and will be paid all arrears of salaries and other entitlements dating back to 2005.
It is difficult not to see this case as the triumph of evil and evidence of the depth corruption, nepotism and sectarianism has eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigerian society. The question is, is Nigerian police, evil personified?
What I find very dishearteningly is the dept People in power and state institutions often descend in perpetrating evil and injustices in Nigeria. When one views the level of decadence, criminality and corruption in Nigeria, against the fact that almost all the perpetrators of these evil are religious, ones confusion is further confounded.
In Nigeria, if a person commits a crime, if the victim wants the perpetrator charged, the victim must bribe the police. If the perpetrator does not want to stand trial, the perpetrator will bribe the police to mess up the evidence. If the case ever gets to court, whoever bribes the judge prevails. In fact, if the prosecutor is not bribed, , the case may or may never get to court. If you are arrested for a case that has nothing to do with you, you must bribe the police to let you go. Nigerian police has taken criminality to a new level and only a complete reorganisation of the police will give Nigeria a chance.
I call on Nigerian government to reopen the case of the APO6 to ensure that the DCP Danjuma Ibrahim, DPO Othman Abdulsalami, Nicholas Zakaria, Sadiq Salami all the policemen complicit in the poisoning of police officer Anthony Edem are brought to justice.
These evil men in uniform must not escape justice for their crimes because they are from the north and are Muslims. This is what happens to justice in multiethnic nation when the criminals justice system is dominated by people from one ethnic group or religion. Nigeria needs a new police force. I demand justice for the APO6.