On Wednesday, their case was heard at the Abuja judicial panel established to probe brutality and human rights abuses of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
<span class="block-story-object-asset"><img class="media-element file-embedded" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/styles/normal_medium/public/_95054325_mediaitem45719998.jpeg?itok=nOCF3Sb1" alt="" /></span><span class="block-story-object-content"><span class="block-story-object-content-header"><span class="block-story-object-content-header-description">The victims were murdered in June 2005
Amobi Nzelu, counsel representing the petitioners, told the court that the panel of inquiry set up by ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to unravel the incident had awarded N3 million compensation in favour of each of the victims.
The victims, Ekene Isaac Mgbe, Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike, and Augustina Arebu, were returning from a nightclub when they were stopped at a police checkpoint and extrajudicially murdered by a contingent of policemen led by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Danjuma.
He said the N3 million compensation given to the families of the victims was grossly inadequate and the review was necessary to assuage their problems and suffering.
Nzelu told the panel that the police reneged and failed to pay the sum of N500,000 meant for the burial expenses of the deceased as recommended by the Independent Panel of Inquiry.
Though he admitted that 3 million was paid to the families of the victims each but said they failed to pay for the burial expenses.
Nzelu said, “On 8th June, 2005 when they were gunned down by men of Nigerian Police Force when they were coming back from an outing. At the point of first contact, three of them were killed. The remaining three were taken to Prince & Princess and killed.
"Government constituted a panel of inquiry headed by Justice O. O. Goodluck and other members. They turned in their verdict, giving each family of the deceased N3 million as compensation and N500,000 as burial expenses.
"But we felt that this is inadequate to compensate for the lives of young people who were killed between the ages 22 and 25 and that is why we are before this panel today.”
"We are asking the panel to review these monies you gave to the families to assuage the problems and suffering they are going through,” he added.
He said the panel was not an appeal panel but had the discretion to address the injustices that arise from the killings and look at what was given if not adequate enough.
When asked why he has not appealed the judgement of the High Court on the matter, Nzelu said the then Attorney General of Federation, Bayo Ojo, did not give him fiat to prosecute the matter but instead gave it to two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
He added that since the matter has been decided by the high court, the Nigerian government has refused to instruct the lawyers to go on appeal.
He said, “One thing that is very painful in this matter is that there is evidence on record from one Suleiman Audu but what I am saying is that it is not my duty or duty of my client to go to appeal court.
"It is the instructing authority to do that and ask the lawyer to appeal against the judgement. But they did not appeal and it took them 13 solid years to determine this case, between 2005 and 2018.
"The Garki Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Abdullahi Othman, who allegedly supervised the killings of the remaining three victims was arrested and detained at the 6th floor of force headquarters, escaped when he said he wanted to pray and has not been found till date.”
The Panel Chairman, Suleiman Galadima therefore asked Nzelu to furnish them with the evidence of refusal to pay the N500,000 meant for burial expenses for each of the deceased on or before 23rd of March 2021.
The matter was therefore adjourned to 15th April, 2021 for continuation and recommendation of the panel.
Recall that two of the policemen standing trial were sentenced to death, while three others were discharged in the judgement delivered by Justice Ishaq Bello.
Those condemned to death were Emmanuel Baba and Ezekiel Acheneje, while Danjuma Ibrahim, Nicholas Zakariah and Sadiq Salami were discharged.
SaharaReporters, New York