A legal practitioner identified as Amobi Nzelu has appealed to the Independent Investigative Panel on human rights violations by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) at the National Human Rights Commission in Abuja, to revisit the case of the Apo six young traders who were extra-judicially killed by some police officers on the 8th of June 2005, and have the Federal government pay their families an outstanding sum of 500,000 for burial expenses which was directed by the then panel led by Justice Olasunbo Goodluck.
Nzelu, who is counsel to the complainants, (Mr. Elvis Ozor and Edwin Meniru) on behalf of Ifeanyi Ozor and five others (now deceased) also informed the Panel, that the N3m compensation already paid and received by the affected families is grossly inadequate and requested for an upgrade to N200 million per family to assuage the pains suffered by families of the young men whose lives were cut short at their prime.
“We felt that this is not adequate enough to compensate for the lives of young people who were within the ages of 22 and 25 that is why we are before this panel. The criminal trial went on for 13years at the end of the day, out of six of them that were arraigned before the court, 2 were sentenced to death, 4 were asked to go home, not that they should go home and sin no more because they sinned but they were asked to go home. We are asking the panel to review this money you gave to the families to assuage their suffering and problems they are going through seeing that the people that were killed were their breadwinners.
We asked in that paper they pay N200 million to each of the families but the panel has the discretion to decide which way to go.”
In reaction Lead counsel to the Nigerian Police, James Idachaba argued that the petition was not supposed to be brought before the panel as the panel is set up to investigate live issues and not matters already decided by competent authorities. He described the petition as an attempt to raise sentiments that lack cause for action.
“As far as we are concerned, the matter is very clear; you have seen what has happened at the panel, that there is no element of a cause of action at all.
This is a matter that has since been resolved judicially and all process required has been concluded.
It is so frivolous! That is one of the vexatious cases I’ve ever come across and let me say this some people for whatever reason think that this panel is a bonanza where you now come, you wake up from the side of the bed, come around and ask for a certain compensation that does not exist at all either in law or in fact.”
The “Apo Six” killing was the sad case of the extra-judicial murder of Six friends in their early and mid-twenties who were car parts dealers at the Apo mechanics’ village, in Abuja after a faceoff with the then Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Danjuma Ibrahim at a night club.
The faceoff ensued when the lover of one of the six friends turned down the love advances of Mr. Ibrahim at the club.
Ibrahim was reported to have stormed out of the club in anger and gone to the checkpoint at the end of the street and told officers on duty he had “sighted a group of armed robbers in the area”.
The six unsuspecting victims, on their way home, arrived at the Gimbiya checkpoint in a Peugeot 406 car, and Mr. Ibrahim allegedly had the car blocked and ordered the officers to shoot the occupants after an argument.
Four of them, unarmed, died at the spot in a blaze of gunfire.
The two who survived the initial onslaught were ‘finished off’ on June 8 2005 by two police officers who claimed, “they attempted to escape from custody.”
The news of the incident shook the country at the time drawing large public outrage consequently; a riot ensued.
The police reportedly hurriedly buried them at the back of their station to cover up their tracks but a panel of inquiry ordered that they be exhumed months later to run an autopsy.
The autopsy found that they were shot at close range contrary to police claim that they were armed robbers.
The judicial panel of inquiry found the police account that the victims were armed robbers to be false and recommended Mr. Ibrahim and his men for trial. Two of the men were sentenced to death by hanging and the four others allowed to go home.
Mr. Ibrahim was over time reinstated into the force with a double promotion. And after more than a decade of court proceedings, the “Apo Six” were pronounced innocent.
The panel yesterday reserved the 15th of April, 2021 for a conference to look at documents to be provided by the counsel to the complainants to enable it to make a decision on the petition of increment on compensation to the families of the victims.