Justice Ishaq Bello of the federal high court who delivered the judgment found two of the accused persons Ezekiel Acheneje and Baba Emmanuel, guilty for their roles in the killing of the traders and sentenced them to death while three others- Danjuma Ibrahim, Nicholas Zakariah and Sadiq Salami were discharged.
The five police officers were among six arraigned over the killing of six Igbo traders on suspicion that they were armed robbers. The sixth person on the charge sheet, Othman Abdulsalam, who was the Divisional Police Officer in Apo, is still on the run.
The accused persons were arraigned on a nine-count charge of conspiracy and culpable homicide, which contravened the provisions of Sections 97 and 221 (a) of the Penal Code Law.
The Igbo traders aged between 21 and 25 were Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene, Paulinus Ogbonna, Anthony Nwodike and a female Augustina Arebun.
The defendants allegedly played different parts in the killing of the victims while they were returning from a night party on 7 June 2005 in Abuja.
Following their deaths and the subsequent public outcry, an official panel of inquiry was set up by ex- President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration to unravel the plot.
The report of the panel said that the victims were at a nightclub located at Gimbiya Street, Area 11 in Abuja on the night of the incident and that the face-off between the policemen and the deceased ensued when the female victim (Augustina) allegedly turned down Ibrahim’s love advances at the club.
The testimonies of the witnesses that formed part of the panel’s report said Ibrahim had gone to a police checkpoint at the end of the street and told officers on duty that they were a group of armed robbers in the area.
When the six young people came in their car, Ibrahim allegedly drove into them, blocking their way and ordered the police officers to shoot. Four of the six died on the spot while Ifeanyi and Augustina had survived the initial onslaught.
The report had it that Ifeanyi had called his friends after surviving the burst of gunfire but that was the last they were to hear from him. Police officers had testified at the criminal trial that Ifeanyi and Augustina were taken to a piece of rough ground outside town where they were executed.
The officers had allegedly planted guns on the bodies of all six of the bodies and pictures were taken of them by a police photographer who later raised an alarm and released the pictures.
In a curious twist, Anthony Edem, one of the officers close to the case, was poisoned after deciding to confess. An autopsy report from the National Hospital Abuja confirmed he died of poisoning which also formed part of the numerous exhibits before the court.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the allegations, making the trial to go through full stretch of adjudication from 2005 to date.