Why they must pay for it—FG
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
It is purely the philosophy of a FOOL – ‘Had I known! Had anyone told them on July 30, 2009, that a single pull of the trigger could land them into national hot soup, they might have laughed it off as the driest joke of the century; after all they were all senior ‘no-nonsense-gun-wielding’ police officers. Now the chicken has come to roost, the hunter has become the prey!
This is exactly the case of the seven trigger happy policemen whose actions have in no small measure, turned Nigeria to an Afghanistan of sort where bomb explosion is gradually becoming a daily phenomenon. They are still referred to as suspects.
It all started on a hot afternoon in 2009, exactly around 2:30 pm, when a team of military personnel who were sent to Borno State, to quell a sectarian crisis that bedeviled the state that year, successfully dragged a man who was said to have masterminded the mayhem into a Police Command situated at Maiduguri the state capital.
The man was alleged to be the leader of a hitherto unknown Muslim sect that is still insisting that nothing good can come out of the western kind of education and culture.
The group seizes every opportunity to argue that ‘Boko’ (western Education) is “Haram’ (Evil), a catchphrase that has since turned to a nightmare for both the Nigerian government and its citizens.
It was the belief of the then administration under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, that if their leader, Yusuf Mohammed, is captured, he could give an insight into some of the alleged hidden operations of the sect which the government viewed as anti-democratic.
However, little did the military officers know that they arrested Yusuf for onward cold blood execution!
Yusuf was not the only victim, his father-in-law, Baa Fugu, as well as an alleged financier of the group, Buji Foi, were also allegedly murdered inside the police station shortly after they were captured alive.
Though police, in a bid to exculpate itself from blame, claimed that the victims died after an intense gun battle, the video clips that later emerged showed that jungle justice may have been administered on them.
Dissatisfied with the way their purported leaders were killed, members of the sect vowed to avenge their deaths, even as they took a pledge to make the nation ungovernable pending when the perpetrators would be brought to book.
To make good their threat, the Boko Haram group claimed responsibility for various bombings across the country, just as they have equally singled out police stations as their primary objects of target.
However, in-line with his promise to stamp out corruption and ensure justice and strict compliance to the rule of law, President Goodluck Jonathan, in a move that appears like an attempt to pacify the dreaded sect, okayed all the seven police men that were fingered in the extra-judicial murder for prosecution.
To show his seriousness, Jonathan ordered the re-appointed Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, to make the case-file his first litmus test.
Consequently, the seven alleged trigger happy officers were on Wednesday, dragged before a Federal High Court in Abuja, where they will be tried over allegations bordering on murder and act of terrorism.
Those on trial are, CSP J. B Abang, ACP Akeera, CSP Mohammed Ahmadu, ACP Mada Buba, Sgt Adamu Gado, PC Anthony Samuel and PC Linus Luka.
The federal government specifically alleged that they unlawfully killed the apprehended leader of the Boko Haram sect, Yusuf, and some of his followers in cold blood, insisting that their action amounted to an offence under section 315 of the Criminal Code.
According to a 2-count charge that was entered in court, the accused persons were alleged to have “conspired with one another to commit an offence to wit; a terrorist act and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code and punishable under Section 15 (1) (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.”
Though only five of the accused persons mounted the dock on Wednesday, Sunday Vanguard investigations however revealed that the other two junior officers, PC Samuel and PC Luka, who were initially listed on the charge sheet as the 6th and 7th accused persons respectively, have agreed to testify in the matter as prosecution witnesses.
The revelation came to light on the day the prosecuting counsel, Mr R.M Ojiabo, told the trial high court that most of the persons scheduled to testify in the matter, took to their heels.
“My lord, the constraints we are having at the moment is that some of our witnesses have ran away and the available ones are afraid to come to court to testify”, he lamented.
The defence counsel Chief Paul Erokoro, SAN, could not take it, as he immediately jumped to his feet, “my lord, whether my learned friend likes it or not, those witnesses must come to this court. They must come and prove the case against the accused persons”.
The agitation from both sides led the trial judge, Justice Donatus Okorowo, to stand down the matter for 20 minutes, even as he summoned the two counsels to his inner chamber for counseling.
When sitting resumed, the prosecuting counsel then informed the court that he has decided to amend the charge with a view to consolidating two separate cases he said were ab-initio filed against the accused persons.
“My lord there are two sets of charges before this court, while one was filed only against four accused persons, the other was filed against only one person. However, since the two set of charges arose from the same set of facts and circumstances, and both cases equally have the same set of witnesses and evidence, we are therefore seeking the leave of this court to consolidate both charges and file an amended charge against the accused persons.”
Following a no objection response by the defence team, Justice Okorowo, accordingly adjourned the case till July 19 to take plea of the accused persons on the basis of the amended charge.
Meantime, two of the charges against them read: “That you, ACP J.B. Abang, ACP Akeera, CSP Mohammed Ahmadu, ACP Mada Buba, Sgt Adamu Gado, PC Anthony Samuel and PC Linus Luka, all of the police command, Maiduguri, on or about the 30th day of July, 2009, at Maiduguri within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, unlawfully killed one Mallam Mohammed Yusuf and his followers, which act is an offence under Section 315 of the Criminal Code and you thereby committed a terrorist act contrary to and punishable under Section 15 (1) (2) of the EFCC Act, 2004.
“That you, ACP J.B. Abang, ACP Akeera, CSP Mohammed Ahmadu, ACP Mada Buba, Sgt Adamu Gado, PC Anthony Samuel and PC Linus Luka, all of the police command Maiduguri on or about the 30th day of July, 2009, at Maiduguri, conspired with one another to commit an offence to wit; a terrorist act and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code and punishable under Section 15 (1) (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.”