THE Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called for an independent panel of inquiry into the death of Vanguard Newspaper reporter Tordue Salem.
The call was made by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) NUJ Chairman Emmanuel Ogbeche while receiving a letter from the House of Representatives Press Corps at the NUJ Council Secretariat in Abuja on Friday.
Ogbeche described the police’s account of the journalist’s death as untenable and inconsistent.
He noted that the latest development was different from the initial account by the police that six persons were being investigated for Salem’s disappearance.
Ogbeche urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami to set up an independent panel of inquiry on the matter.
“There are so many disjointed or many missing links to the story that are being peddled. For us at the NUJ, we have studied this carefully, we are going to issue a statement and a petition,” he said.
“But before then, one of the resolutions we have reached is for an independent inquiry into the death of Mr. Tordue Salem.
“The autopsy is going to tell us the time – and for those that have had the opportunity of viewing Mr. Salem’s remains at the morgue, it does not indicate that he died about four weeks ago.”
According to him, the inquiry should involve an autopsy to determine the time of death and the actual cause of death.
He said the union is holding the management of Vanguard Newspapers responsible “because it is surprising that it is the only media organisation that was privy to the discovery of Mr Tordue Salem”.
The FCT NUJ chairman stressed the need for the international community to monitor the investigation and the outcome to ensure that sanctions are dished out appropriately.
Chairperson of the House of Representatives Press Corps Grace Ike while reading the letter to the FCT NUJ chairman said the police had earlier claimed that Salem was in their custody.
“Going by accounts of those who were invited by the Police Intelligence
Response Team, the police had Tordue in custody and was investigating him for sundry allegations.
“However, after the series of protests led by your humble self to the Force Headquarters, with no information as to whether he was dead, we are shocked to hear the police saying that he was killed by a hit and run driver.
“In the estimation of the Corps, our colleague may have been killed in police custody under suspicious and questionable circumstances, and for that, we demand justice,” parts of the letter read.
Salem, who covered the lower chamber of the National Assembly was found dead on Thursday in Abuja about a month after he was declared missing.
NPF spokesperson Frank Mba on Friday, announced that Salem was killed by one Itoro Clement, a commercial driver.
Mba, who spoke while parading the suspect at the police headquarters in Abuja, said Itoro who drove a 2004 Model Toyota Camry with number plate BWR 243 BK confessed that he knocked down Salem at about 10:00 pm on October 13 around the Mabushi area in Abuja.