About 15 years after their killing on June 8, 2005, lawyer to the six traders killed by the police in the Apo area of Abuja, Amobi Nzelu, on Wednesday pleaded with the Independent Investigative Panel on Human Rights Violations on the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other police units to revisit their case.
Nzelu, who is the counsel to the complainants, Elvis Ozor and Edwin Meniru, on behalf of Ifeanyi Ozor and five other deceased traders, informed the panel that the order of a former panel led by Justice Olasunbo Goodluck, which directed that N500,000 be paid to each of the deceased’s families as burial expenses had yet to be obeyed by the Federal Government.
He was quoted in a statement by the Head of Media, National Human Rights Commission, Hajiya Fatima Agwai Mohammed, as saying that the recommendation of the panel that N3m should be paid to each of the family of the victims and the exhumation of the bodies of the deceased for befitting burial were complied with.
The statement said, “Nzelu, however, pleaded with the current 11-member panel headed by Justice Suleiman Galadima to make an order compelling the Federal Government to upgrade the N3m compensation already paid and received by the affected families to N200m per family.
“Nzelu stated that N3m was grossly inadequate to assuage the pains suffered by families of these young men, whose lives were cut short by the police at their prime since the deceased, while they lived, were the breadwinners of their various families.”
While admitting that the Federal Government prosecuted some officers, indicted by the Justice Goodluck’s panel and that the two policemen, Emmanuel Baba and Ezekiel Acheneje, were convicted during the 13-year trial, he said the rest were discharged and acquitted.
The respondents in the matter include Danjuma Ibrahim, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (FCT Command); Inspector Suleiman Audu of FCT Command; PC Haruna Mamot of FCT Command; PC Ibrahim Garba of FCT Command; PC Yakubu Philibus of FCT Command, Inspector Suleiman Audu of FCT Command; Commissioner of Police (FCT Command) and Inspector-General of Police.
The lead counsel to the Nigerian Police, DCP James Idachaba, said the petition was not supposed to be brought before the panel, saying the panel lacked the power to hear the matter.
According to him, the matter has been laid to rest by both the then judicial panel of inquiry and the FCT High Court presided over by the immediate the past Chief Judge of FCT High Court, Justice Ishaq Bello.
He said that the only option left for the complainants and their counsel was to appeal the judgment of the FCT High Court which, he said, is a Court of competent jurisdiction.
After listening to the submissions by counsel to both parties, the panel reserved April 15, 2021, to do justice to the case.