The ranks of Abuja journalists, particularly parliamentary reporters have been depleted with the sudden and untimely death of one of its dedicated and experienced, Tordue Henry Salem.
Salem was one of the very brilliant journalists I noticed in the early years of my practice. We had only worked closely as parliamentary reporters in the House for five years. I can attest to his audacity as a reporter who was always hungry to break stories. He was physically intimidating, intellectually savvy, and fearlessly daring. I need not say that any journalist who fits the above description could get into trouble, easily.
While I lack the requisite expertise and information to delve into the circumstances that led to his disappearance and eventual death, I am amused by the account of the police that Salem was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The police further claimed that Salem had been killed on the 13th of October, by a 29-year-old Can driver, Mr Clement Itoro, who was arrested following an investigation carried out by the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB).
According to the PPRO, Mr Frank Mba, a commissioner of police, Itoro who was driving a 2004 Model Camry with number plate BWR 243 BK confessed to having hit Mr Salem about 10:00 p.m. on the night of 13 October around the Mabushi area in Abuja but ran away.
Itoro said “I thought it was an armed robber that I knocked down until the following day when I saw a smashed phone on my windscreen. The phone was not working again so I threw it away.”
The above account leaves more questions to be answered. First and foremost, when a case of a missing person is reported, the first and central point of investigation is the hospitals and morgues, which to the best of my knowledge was done both by members of the family and authorities. It is therefore a surprise that Salem’s body was found in a morgue within the city, 29days after the mysterious disappearance.
The police may as well want us to believe that the hit-and-run driver demobilised Salem’s body of all means of identification before he fled the scene. Who was the ‘Good Samaritan‘ that found the body and deposited it at the morgue and how come the management of the said hospital never notified the police that an unidentified body of an accident victim was deposited at the facility?
I am still wondering what Mba meant when he said “A very firm instruction was given by the IG that no human or material resource should be spared at locating and understanding the rationale behind his disappearance. As I speak with you, we have made considerable and significant progress with the investigation.”
Maybe someday, the above questions and many more will be sincerely answered, for now, we will manage to swallow whatever the police arrived at on the matter.
Nevertheless, should the police account be correct in its entirety, then we all have cause to worry, we are not in safe hands and we are all in serious trouble. Not only Nigerians but the international community should be disturbed that the revered Nigerian Police Force could not resolve a mere case of hit-and-run killing within the heart of Abuja for a whole month. How then can we sleep with our eyes closed?
One may choose to call it negligence, incompetence, or complicity depending on individual perspective on the issues, but one thing is clear, the questions surrounding Salem’s death are yet to be resolved and the police have chosen the name it wants the answer in this situation except and until another revelation is made.
Very painfully, I offer my sincere condolences to Salem’s immediate family, particularly his young daughter, the people and government of Benue State, the Nigerian media community, and other concerned persons and groups.
May Salem’s spirit hunt his killers until they are fished out and justice served!