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Abuja killings: Chukwumerije wants judicial commission

Posted by By Emmanuel Aziken & Charles Ozoemena on 2005/06/23 | Views: 260 |

Abuja killings: Chukwumerije wants judicial commission

SENATOR Uche Chukwumerije called, yesterday, for a judicial commission to takeover the on-going Police inquiry into the alleged Police killing of six Abuja traders, saying natural inclination to self preservation would discourage the Police inquiry from unravelling the truth.

ABUJA —SENATOR Uche Chukwumerije called, yesterday, for a judicial commission to takeover the on-going Police inquiry into the alleged Police killing of six Abuja traders, saying natural inclination to self preservation would discourage the Police inquiry from unravelling the truth.

President Obasanjo is said to be waiting for the outcome of the probe, even as counsel to the traders Mr Amobi Nzelu, alleged yesterday that a policeman, Hassanwa Jiga, who testified on Wednesday was taken away by a senior policeman.

Senator Chukwumerije at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, said he had been constrained to make a formal petition to the Senate to wade into the issue. Noting that public impression gave an indication of guilt by the Policemen involved, Senator Chukwumerije said it was illogical to expect the Police to make a honest search for the truth of the matter even as he affirmed the integrity of the members of the panel.

He said: “My observations yesterday during the sitting of the Police Panel investigating the Apo murders, have led— as indeed, they should lead any objective observer –– to the conclusion that the task of unravelling the circumstances behind the death of the six persons who had an encounter with the Police requires a platform more public and more judicially empowered than a Police panel. In the hearing room, there was a heavy atmosphere of fear and insecurity. This was not created by the actions or utterances of any one but by the sheer fact of the presence of an all-uniformed Police panel. The nervousness of the witnesses being cross-examined was palpable.

The need for truth demands that the government sets up a judicial commission of inquiry to handle this issue. I urge this option for three reasons.

• Such a commission will put all parties –– suspects, complainants and witnesses –– on equal footing. The fact is, in spite of the openness of the panel’s public sittings, its structural framework has created a fundamental problem of objectivity and credibility. A panel, set up by the Police, composed solely of Police personnel, and assigned to investigate murder charges against the Police, is bound to create in fair minds the impression of a captive jury set up to carry out a corporate exercise in damage control and image laundry. This impression is bound to continue in spite of the undisputed fact of the high integrity of the individual members of the panel. Obviously, a panel outside the jurisdiction of the Police is better placed than this orderly-room inquiry to create a level playing ground for all.

•A judicial commission will eliminate the fear of undue influence on witnesses. Civilian witnesses, who are conditioned by familiar fearful response of civil society to the Police, and who have to face a panel of all Police personnel, are bound to feel unnerved. Indeed, the signals of danger and undue influence are being remitted daily to witnesses by incidents of mysterious deaths or disappearances of key witnesses since the Panel began its sitting.

•The judicial commission will have power of sanctions unlike an internal Police inquiry. Such sanctions will help to frame and control the parameters for truth.

“The public impression is that the death of these six persons is a case of cold-blooded murder by some Policemen. Every circumstantial evidence reinforces this impression. It will take nothing lower than a judicial commission of inquiry to unmask the real truth.”

Obasanjo awaits result

President Obasanjo was said yesterday to be waiting for the conclusion of the panel before taking action to forestall future occurrence. He refused to be dragged into commenting on the issue for now. The President had ordered the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, to institute public inquiry into the killing .

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mrs. Oluremi Oyo, announced the position of the president on the matter. “I want to say categorically that the President knew about the matter. As a matter of fact, he ordered the Inspector-General of Police and the rest to ensure that this investigation be carried out,” she told reporters.

“President Obasanjo would not want to speculate on the alleged killings until the report is submitted to him at the end of the panel’s sitting, and so, the President waits until when it is through. It will be most un-statesmanly and certainly un-presidential to speculate over an investigation that has not ended.”

Panel fails to sit

Meanwhile, the panel failed to sit yesterday. After long hours of waiting, counsel for the Igbo community in the matter, Mr Amobi Nzelu, addressed people who gathered at the venue at 1 p.m. to confirm that the panel would not sit. “I was called to see the chairman of the panel, Mike Okiro, a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, and he said the panel would not be able to sit today (yesterday).

“He has, however, promised that the panel will resume sitting tomorrow (today) and has asked me to tell you to maintain peace as the truth of the matter will be unravelled. I advise you to continue to pray for it is only God that can reveal what is being hidden. So far, what has been revealed was made possible by God and not by man.

Mr Hassanwa Jiga, a policeman attached to the Prince and Princess Property, Apo Village and four others, had given testimonies on how a team of policemen shot one of the six dead after he was handed over to them.

Nzelu also said the police officer was later taken away by the police. “A senior police officer, took Jiga away yesterday (Wednesday) and he was supposed to appear at yesterday’s sitting, but he has not been seen. Maybe because it is not sitting,’’ he said.

Nzelu enjoined Nigerians to pray that God would use this incident to expose all the numerous killings in the country and put a stop to it. “It is too much and our God is going to intervene,” he said.

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.