By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJAâ€”The controversy trailing the extra-judicial killing of six traders at the Apo mechanic village, in 2005, took a new dimension, yesterday as two lead witnesses in the matter, pleaded with an Abuja high court handling the trial to disregard separate statements they made before the Mike Okiro panel of inquiry that earlier investigated the case, insisting that they lied.
The witnesses, Mr Yakubu Philibus and Mr Ibrahim Garba listed in the criminal matter as prosecution witness 3 and 4 respectively, denied their statements that the Apo six victims did not engage the police patrol squad in a gun battle and that ammunitions were not recovered from the 406 vehicle that conveyed the deceased persons on the day of the incident.
They further denied the account of the story in the report submitted by the Okiro- led panel to the Federal Government, adding that it was not true that the victims were killed by the police patrol team in self defence.
Their confessions came shortly after the trial Judge, Justice Ishaq Bello, allowed them to watch a video record containing all the submissions they made before the Okiro panel, in court yesterday.
Though they had earlier testified in the matter, the trial court ordered their recall to the witness-box sequel to an oral application by counsel to the 1st accused person, Chief Ricky Tafa, SAN, urging the Judge to summon them back for further cross-examination.
He contended that the seeming contradictions in their statements before the court and at the Okiro-led panel of inquiry deserve additional explanation.
The police officers standing trial are DCP Danjuma Ibrahim, DPO Abdulsalam Othman (presently at large), Nicholas Zakaria, Emmanuel Baba, Ezekiel Achejene and Sadiq Salam.
They were charged to court for the gruesome murder of six youths along Gimbiya Street in Abuja on the early hours of June 8, 2005.
The deceased victims were Ifeanyi Ozo, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwokike and Augustine Arebun (female), all aged between 21 and 25 years.
Five of them were said to be traders at the Apo Mechanic village in Abuja.
Meantime, the prosecution led by Chief Chris Uche, SAN, yesterday, told the trial court that six more witnesses would be called to testify in the matter.
Further hearing on the case was yesterday adjourned till June 16.