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Saturday, 28 September 2013

Abuja Killings: The truth, lies and politics


W ere the victims of Apo Shooting on September 20, 2013 really members of Boko Haram as advanced by the Department of  State Security Service (DSS) or mere squatters in an uncompleted building allegedly owned by a retired Army General? Was that a case of another extra Judicial killing in the Federal Capital Territory by the operatives of security agencies? Saturday Vanguard in this special report reveals all the sides of the story.
Like almost always, mum is the word. But the rage is on. The anger and the public outcry have reached a crescendo. Questions are flooding the streets. Whodunit? But no one, not even the Department of Security Service (DSS) which is obviously, centrally involved in the controversy could lend a more convincing voice. And the Army whose men provided military back-up from Guards Brigade, according to reports, is yet to officially tell their role in the development. The whole thing appears highly shrouded in secrecy. And the result is the festering hearsay in almost every quarter of the society.
On the day of the incident, Friday, September 20, 2013, Marilyn Ogar, Director, Public Relations of the DSS had said a shoot-out occurred between her men and suspected Boko Haram Sect members which unfortunately resulted to the death of some of the ‘insurgents.’ She also said it was a joint operation with the Army. But not many people heard Ogar say the Police was involved. Many Nigerians did not only describe Ogar’s submission as tacit, they also dismissed it with a wave of hand, saying it lacked reasoning and logic.
But then, deaths were recorded. In one fell swoop, seven persons died instantly in what seemed to Ogar as a gun duel. At the last count, the death toll was 10 and other victims whose whereabouts were unknown as at Wednesday were over 26. When Saturday Vanguard called Ogar for more enquires, she conspicuously sounded regimental and swiftly dropped this: “I have no comments. I am the one who gives releases to the press when I have.” And then she ended the call from her end. But hers was better compared to Frank Mba, the Police Force Headquarters Public Relations officer (PRO) who did not respond to the text messages sent to his phone.
Survivors in hospital
Survivors in hospital
Could this be another case of extra judicial killing by security agents whom the law requires to protect the lives and properties of Nigerians and in most cases, arrest and bring to justice, culprits instead of summary killing? Fears and suspicions really abound.
Now, recall the controversial ‘Apo Six’ in June 2005, which claimed the lives of six young traders at the MechanicVillage including a woman who was said to be a fiancée to one of the traders. Recall also the underhand developments which indicted the Police over the shooting. Sadly, till date, justice is yet to be served on the case after eight years.
Indeed, like the “Apo six”, the incident on September 20 is also another Apo killing. And because of the number of casualties, many have come to tag it “ Apo 10.”
The “Apo 10” happened in an uncompleted building located at the Kyari close, Zone E Apo Legislative Quarters, near the GuduCemetery in the FederalCapitalTerritory , FCT.
The story
The story is told in two parallels that prompt discrepancies. While the official position, being Ogar’s preliminary statement that swayed many Nigerians, corroborates the presence of ‘terrorists’ in the uncompleted building and a vexing fire-shot that got the DSS operatives and the soldiers triggered during an operation meant to excavate a cache of arms said to have been buried by the “insurgents” around in the building, counter-arguments from the sorrow-stricken survivors of the shooting, eye-witnesses, concerned citizens including a member of the House of Representatives, the neighborhood, Human Rights Activist and sympathetic members of the public vehemently reject the official view.
Agreed that the dead were squatters in the building, they posited that the victims were young Nigerians who engaged in various businesses such as operating commercial tricycles otherwise called “Keke NAPEP”, Mai-ruwa (water suppling), sachet water selling, amongst other petty trading as means of livelihood. To them, linking the young chaps to Boko Haram was unacceptable.
Another aspect of the story has it that the building belongs to a retired Army General who became greatly irked upon a knowledge that squatters had taken over his house. Sources said that a few days before the raid, someone in the toga of the owner of the house had issued stern threats to deal with the squatters without further pre-information. But at the moment, the person’s identity is still not known.
And here a few questions arise. Why is the identity of the General or the owner of the building not disclosed yet? Why would the security operatives embark on a nocturnal digging of arms without first securing the environment till daylight? Where are the arms now? If the story of non-Police involvement is worth the salt, why would there be an operation of such nature without the Police? Why were the survivors of the shooting left without police protection even around their sick beds in the hospital since Boko Haram cases are considered high profile? Many questions, less answers.
Many Nigerians including Hon. Amiru Tukur Idris Nadabo, Member representing Bakori/Danja Constituency, KatsinaState in the House of Representatives who spoke to Saturday Vanguard explained that such sites with heavy presence of young men who try to eke out a living were common within Abuja and its environs. Nadabo however said that the boys usually enter into an agreement with perhaps, the Mai-Guard (local Guard) in and around such buildings which would see them pay a token ranging from N100 to N300 each as accommodation charge per night. He said  that was the case with the victims of the shooting of which four of the dead were members of his Constituency in KatsinaState .
Hear him: “: “As of now, we have four of my constituents killed and about nine of them are missing. We don’t know where they are. Since Friday, we have been trying to get in touch with those that arrested them. We are trying to locate where they have been taken them. They are about 26. Some are from Zamfara, two are from Yobe ; two are from Kaduna ; and others from Sokoto and Kebbi States .
“I have visited the scene of the incident. Actually, it’s an uncompleted building. You see similar buildings around Wuse 11, Apo and Asokoro. You see these buildings being occupied by these hustlers, these Keke Napep drivers; people who push trucks and pure water sellers.”
The  rent/threats
Nadabo told Saturday Vanguard that his late constituents had brought to his knowledge a threat by the  supposedly owner of the uncompleted building who threatened fire and brimstone. He also recalled an earlier disagreement between the boys and the “caretaker” of the facility which was later settled. According to him, he had plans to relocate the boys amid the conflicts but hesitated when apparently, relative peace returned.

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