The senior lawyer, Amobi Nzelu on Wednesday pleaded with the Independent Investigative Panel (IIP-SARS) to revisit the case of Apo six where young traders were alleged to have been extra-judicially killed by some police officer on June 8, 2005.
Nzelu, counsel to the complainants,(Mr. Elvis Ozor and Edwin Meniru) on behalf of Ifeanyi Ozor and five others (now deceased) specifically prayed the panel to order for an upgrade of compensations paid to the deceased family by the federal government.
According to the counsel who said he was called to the Bar 41 years ago, the recommendation of an earlier panel headed by Justice Olasunbo Goodluck that the federal government should pay the sum of N3 million to each of the family of the deceased and the exhumation of the bodies of the deceased for befitting burial was complied with.
However, he informed the sitting IIP-SARS Panel that the order of the then panel which directed that N500,000 naira be paid to each of the deceased family for burial expenses was yet to be obeyed by the federal government.
In the light of the above, Amobi 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 N200 million per family.
The pleading Nzelu stated that N3m is grossly inadequate to assuage the pains suffered by families of these young men considering the fact that none of the victims was above 25 years of age when their lives were allegedly cut short by the police. “The deceased while they lived were the breadwinners of their various families” he added.
Nzelu who was also counsel to the deceased families at Goodluck’s panel conceded that the FG prosecuted some officers who were indicted by Goodluck’s panel and that two persons were convicted in the trial which according to him lasted for 13 years, while the rest were discharged and acquitted. The convicts are Emmanuel Baba and Ezekiel Acheneje.
The respondents in this matter include DCP Danjuma Ibrahim of FCT Command, Inspector Suleiman Audu of FCT police command, PC Haruna Mamot of FCT police command, PC Ibrahim Garba of FCT police command, PC Yakubu Philibus of FCT police command, Insp. Suleiman Audu of FCT police command, Commissioner of Police of FCT police command and Inspector General of Police.
In his response, lead counsel to the Nigerian Police, DCP James Idachaba said that the petition is not supposed to be brought before the panel saying that the panel is set up by the federal government to investigate live issues and not matters already decided by competent authorities.
Core Reporters report that Idachaba said the matter has been comprehensively laid to rest by both the then judicial panel of inquiry and the FCT high court presided over by the immediate past Chief Judge of FCT high court, Justice Ishaq Bello (rtd).
Idachaba further stated that “for the complainants to come before this panel, it would amount to asking the current panel to review the decision of Goodluck’s panel and the judgement of the FCT high court” which he noted is not the position of the law.
He said that the only option left for the complainants and their counsel is to appeal the judgement of the FCT high court which he noted is a court of competent jurisdiction.
Besides, he told the panel that the petitioners’ counsel has not shown any proof that the N500, 000 for the burial expenses of the deceased was not paid to each of the deceased families as he has claimed.
In considering the above submissions by counsel to both parties, the panel reserved 15th of April, 2021 for a conference to look at the various documents alluded to by Nzelu so as to do justice to the case.
The documents among others include the judgement of the FCT high court on the matter and the white paper of Goodluck’s panel which was earlier referred to by counsel to the complainants.