Remembering Apo Six ~ By Olusegun Adeniyi
Last Sunday marked exactly 15 years since six young Nigerians (a woman and five men) lost their lives in the Apo area of Abuja in one of the most gruesome extra-judicial killings ever perpetrated by police.
That the families are still crying for justice for what happened on the night of 7th June 2005 says so much about the rule of law in our country. Although six police men were involved in the premeditated murder, only two were eventually found guilty for their roles and accordingly sentenced to death.
But the acquittal of Mr Danjuma Ibrahim (now an Assistant Inspector General of Police) has continued to generate controversy. A Deputy Commissioner of Police at the time, Danjuma led the gang that was indicted for the crime.
Both the police probe panel, chaired by then Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Mr. Mike Okiro (who later became IGP) and the federal government judicial panel of inquiry, chaired by Justice Olasumbo Goodluck, found all six policemen culpable.
There were also cover-up attempts that resulted in the murder of a policeman by poisoning.
This was exposed during the investigations that followed the Apo killings.
While Okiro recommended the dismissal of the six officers, Justice Goodluck asked the federal government to tender a public apology and pay N3 million compensation to each family of the deceased.
The financial compensation has since been paid but there can be no closure until all the police officers involved in that unprovoked extra-judicial killings are brought to justice.
Incidentally, in April 2012, the Centre for Victims of Extra-Judicial Killings and Torture (CVEKT) had reported that between 2008 and 2011, a total of 7,198 extra-judicial killings were carried out in Nigeria by the police.
It was that culture of total disregard for human life that emboldened a murderous police gang to do what they did to some young people who were returning home from nightclub on 7th June 2015.
Since there seems to be an agreement between the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and police authorities to allow ‘the sleeping dog to lie’ on this matter, families of the victims are now completely helpless. But that tragedy remains a permanent stain on our collective conscience as a nation.
Death in Bujumbura
The death on Monday of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi speaks to the vanity of human wishes. After spending ten years in power, the late Nkurunziza decided in 2015 to rewrite the Constitution so he could seek a third term in office.
That move precipitated a serious crisis in a country regarded as one of the poorest in the world. He eventually had his way but not before hundreds of protesting Burundi citizens were killed.
Following another constitutional change adopted after a fraudulent referendum in 2018, Nkurunziza got the latitude to stay in office until 2034.
Apparently sensing that his luck was running out, he announced in December that year that he would be leaving office at the expiration of the current term in August.
And in the controversial presidential election held last month, his anointed candidate, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was declared winner. But the late Nkurunziza had his plan.
In February, the rubberstamp Burundi National Assembly passed a law making him the country’s “supreme guide for patriotism” and was billed to remain chairman of the ruling party’s powerful council of elders.
The idea was for him to continue to run the show in Burundi after leaving office as president. But all the cold calculations have now been rendered null and void by coronavirus.
And it is most instructive that Nkurunziza died on June 8, the same day 22 years ago that the late General Sani Abacha died in Nigeria.
There must be a lesson there for all who attempt to play god with power: It is a most precarious game!
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