By George Onah & Demola Akinyemi
PORT HARCOURT â€” TWO trigger-happy policemen, Corporals Wafal Aminu and Victor Fabiyi have been condemned to death after being found guilty by a Port Harcourt High Court of killing a University of Port Harcourt, final year Geology student, Nnamdi Ajikere.
The court heard that trouble started when Ajikere, his brother and two girls boarded an unpainted taxi cab operated by Fabiyi, who was in plainclothes. The group had to alight from the cab following disagreement on the fare charged by the driver.
Fabiyi was angered by the groupâ€™s decision to abandon his taxi in preference for another and made his resentment known to the group, following an exchange of uncomplimentary words between both parties.
Bent on getting his pound of flesh, Fabiyi trailed the group to a mobile police check-point close to a five-star hotel along GRA and hurriedly lied to the policemen that the occupants of the other cab were criminals and should be dealt with.
Testifying at the trial, the younger brother of murdered Ajikere said the group was ordered out of the cab and frog-jumped, beaten black and blue and ordered to lay face-down on the tarred road. This was even as the policemen refused to listen to their own side of the story.
Unable to bear the torture any longer, he said, Ajikere tried to stand up and was shot at point-blank range by Cpl. Aminu. His life could not be saved as he was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital that said Ajikere died of excessive bleeding.
Delivering judgment after sentencing the men to death by hanging, Monday, Justice Boma Diepreyi said the sentence would serve as a deterrent to other uniformed men â€œwhose stock-in-trade is to kill innocent citizens under the guise of accidental discharge.â€
Diepreyi said it would be unfair to take the plea of both Fabiyi and Aminu for mercy, adding: â€œIn as much as I sympathize with them, there is the blood of the young Nnamdi Ajikere, the deceased 20 year-old final year student of University of Port Harcourt crying for vengeance.
â€œJustice is a balancing act and the only way to a balanced justice in this case is to make the accused persons face the consequences of their reckless act and hope that this will serve as a deterrent to those who may want to emulate their terrible example.â€
Meantime, in preparation for the 2011 elections, the Nigeria Police Force has warned its officers to steer clear of inducements by politicians or their agents during the elections stressing that officers found culpable may be dismissed from service and jailed.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. John Hamza Ahmadu, who gave the warning, Tuesday, while addressing the officers at the state command headquarters in Ilorin, also announced that N2billion has been released for the housing projects for officers nationwide.
Ahmadu charged the officers not to compromise their professional ethics and destroy their career because of what he described as chicken fees from politicians assured them that all their allowances would be paid before the elections.
He also urged politicians to warn their supporters to restrict their campaigns to their manifestos and play the game according to the rules adding that those who foment trouble will be dealth with.