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Ortom, Omo-Agege task police, others on killing of Vanguard journalist

By Odita Sunday, John Akubo (Abuja) and Joseph Wantu (Makurdi)
13 November 2021   |   3:04 am
Police, yesterday, paraded suspected hit-and-run driver, Itoro Clement, who killed the Vanguard journalist, Tordue Salem in Abuja.

Commandant, Intelligence Response Team (IRT), DCP Tunji Disu (left) and Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba parading a suspected hit-and-run taxi driver, Itoro Clement, that killed the Vanguard reporter, Tordue Salem in Abuja…yesterday. PHOTO: LUCY LADIDI ATEKO<br />

Police Parade Suspected Killer In Abuja

Police, yesterday, paraded suspected hit-and-run driver, Itoro Clement, who killed the Vanguard journalist, Tordue Salem in Abuja.

The Force Public Relations Officer, CP Frank Mba, said officers of Intelligence Response Team (IRT) led by Tunji Disu, Deputy Commissioner of Police, arrested the driver.

Clement, an indigene of Akwa Ibom State and resident cab driver in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), confessed to hitting the deceased journalist and running away after the accident.

Parading the suspect before newsmen at the IRT headquarters, Disu and Mba, said that police detective, acting on the order of the Inspector General of Police, arrested the suspect based on actionable intelligence.

Mba said that immediately the case of the missing journalist was reported to the police authorities, the IGP directed officers of the Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) to swing into action. The suspect’s movement was traced, and he was arrested within the FCT.

He revealed that Clement, who was driving a Toyota Camry car with registration number BWR243BK, knocked down the reporter at maximum speed at a flyover between Mabushi and Wuse in the FCT and drove off after the accident.

The police spokesman also said that there was a phone stuck inside the car, which the suspect threw away after the incident, adding that some other persons picked it and sold some parts of the phone.

On how the suspect was arrested, Mba said that the IRT Commander, Disu and his officers tracked the phone contacts of the driver after he parked the car.

“On the strength of this, detectives moved to the Wuse General Hospital in the area and discovered a body that looks like Salem’s on November 11. His family was contacted immediately, and they confirmed that the deceased journalist was the one in the morgue,” Mba narrated.

Mba listed some of the identification items found on the deceased reporter as a Keystone Debit Card, Vanguard identity card, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) identity card and National Assembly temporary identity card.

Salem was last seen on Wednesday October 13, 2021, after the close of work at the National Assembly when a colleague dropped him off at a filling station adjacent the Police Force Headquarters.

His disappearance was immediately reported to the police by the NUJ and the Vanguard Newspapers Limited.

Clement confessed to hitting somebody on the night of October 13 along Mabushi Bridge, from Jabi, on his way to Wuse Market, Abuja. The taxi driver also confessed that he didn’t wait to see the person he hit because the area is a black spot.

Meanwhile, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom has called for thorough investigation of the death and recovery of the body of Salem, stating that the circumstances are suspicious.

Ortom, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Nathaniel Ikyur, expressed shock over the circumstances surrounding the death of the Benue -born journalist who was declared missing a month ago.

“I am pained how the former Vanguard reporter suddenly disappeared but was found dead by unidentified persons in an undisclosed location in Abuja, “ he said, appealing to the police, Department of State Service (DSS) and other sister agencies to do everything possible to unravel the mystery surrounding the gruesome murder of the journalist.

Also, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege charged the police and other security agencies to unravel the circumstances leading to the killing of Salem.

Odunuqa quoted Omo-Agege as expressing regret over the unfortunate incident and emphasising the need for investigations that’ll unmask all those involved in Salem’s death.

He said the parade of Itoro Clement, a commercial driver who allegedly knocked down the journalist, had raised further questions on the circumstances leading to his demise.

The lawmaker noted that providing the missing puzzle is the only way to bring closure on the matter, adding that anything short of this would add to the list of unresolved murders of journalists carrying out their constitutional duties.

“The news of the killing of Mr. Tordue Henry Salem came to me as a rude shock, especially as it came barely 48-hours after the Senate and House of Representatives passed separate resolutions tasking security agencies to intensify efforts to find him and reunite him with his family.

“I am particularly worried that this is happening at the heart of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Reports abound of kidnappings and other security breaches in the nation’s capital.

“While we await further briefing from the police on who deposited Salem’s body in the morgue and when it was deposited, the sad development has added to the list of unresolved killings of journalists like Dele Giwa, founding Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch magazine; Godwin Agbroko of ThisDay; Bagauda Kaltho of The News; Bayo Ohu of The Guardian; Edo Sule Ugbagwu of The Nation and Abayomi Ogundeji of ThisDay, who were all murdered in the course of discharging their constitutional duties.”