By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The Senate yesterday, resolved to investigate the recent reinstatement of a deputy police commissioner, Mr. Danjuma Ibrahim, who was indicted by a judicial panel of inquiry set up by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005 to probe the killing of five young Igbo traders and a young lady in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The Senate resolution to investigate the matter following a point of order raised by Senator Sonni Ogbuoji (PDP, Ebonyi South), drawing the attention of the Chamber to the reinstatement of the earlier suspended police officer, who was acquitted in March this year by the FCT High Court Judge, Ishaq Bello.
Senator Ogbuoji expressed serious concerns that the same court sentenced two police officers who operated under the directive of Ibrahim to kill the young traders but acquitted their master.
He also called on the Senate to look into the case because it was worrisome that the Police Service Commission (PSC) exonerated and reinstated the leader of the police team that actually committed the murder while his subordinates were severely punished.
“My personal explanation is on an incidence that took place that led to the death of six young people, five of them males and one a female at a police checkpoint. That incidence involved Ifeanyi Ozo, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike and Augustina Arebun.
“The then President Olusegun Obasanjo, set up a judicial panel of inquiry because the police report was unacceptable to him when they insisted that those young people were armed robbers. And in the judicial panel of inquiry, some police officers were found to have killed these young people.
“So, they were taken to court by the state. The commander of that particular police unit, one Danjuma Ibrahim, as we speak today, has been reinstated by the police. Also, one of them, Othman Abdulsalami, till today is at large. But the court on the 12th of last month sentenced two of the police men to death for murder.
“One is worried that the commander of that particular patrol unit that killed what is now known as Apo six has been reinstated by the police whereas the police has found others who were under his command culpable.
“So, it generates a lot of tension among the people whose children were killed in cold blood; that we the Senate will take interest to find out how come one of the police officers is at large and the police is unable to trace his whereabouts till today, almost twelve years after, and then the one who was found guilty the police is now saying thank you to him for killing those young people by reinstating and reabsorbing him in the police force.
“So, I urge the Senate to take interest to find out what has happened with this exercise.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, asked Ogbuoji to bring a formal petition on the matter so that it would be referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
Saraki said, “I think this would have come under a petition so that we easily refer it to the Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions but as a ranking Senator, we give you these privileges. The matter will be referred to Ethics and Privileges when you come in line with formal petition”.
The police had initially said that the victims of the horrendous murder in the nation’s political capital twelve years ago, who were between ages 21-25 and included a young lady, were armed robbers.
But a judicial panel set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo to look into the matter threw out most of the accounts by the police and recommended Mr. Danjuma and his men for trial.
All the officers were immediately placed on suspension by the police. Twelve years later, two of the officers were convicted and sentenced to death, but the FCT High Court presiding judge, Ishaq Bello, said there was no evidence to convict Mr. Danjuma and two others.