Reports of the recovery of the remains of Vanguard reporter, Henry Tordue Salem and the arrest of the alleged killer is currently triggering reactions from concerned Nigerians who have alleged that the Nigeria Police Force has left many questions unanswered in their narrative regarding the recovery of the journalist’s body.
Recall that the Benue-born journalist who was declared missing on October 13 was according to the police, found dead on Thursday.
Less than 24 hours after his remains were discovered, the police on Friday disclosed that one Itoro Clement who happens to be a commercial driver in charge of a Toyota Camry 2014 model with registration number, BWR 243 DK was arrested for allegedly hitting the reporter to death with his vehicle.
According to a statement by the Force spokesman, Frank Mba, the suspect, during an interrogation, “stated clearly that same day Henry Tordue Salem disappeared, he had a hit-and-run incident somewhere around Mabushi – Wuse interchange.
“That accident reportedly happened at about 10 pm. The driver stated that after knocking down an unknown pedestrian, he did not stop and continued his journey, and immediately ended up his activities that day. He drove his vehicle to ‘Good Friends’ garage where he normally parks his vehicle every night for a fee”.
The force PRO further explained that upon the suspect’s confession, some detectives moved to the General Hospital that covers that area, stressing that after a lot of painstaking search by the operatives, a body believed to be that of Henry Tordue Salem was found at about 11:20 am at Wuse General Hospital morgue.
However, some citizens of the country who spoke with DAILY POST in Abuja, (not limited to those quoted below), expressed doubts on the police account leading to the discovery of the corpse, saying the police ” left key questions unanswered.”.l
Some of the recurrent questions are:
1. A radio presenter in Bwari Area Council in Abuja, Mr Kenneth asked, “what was the journalist doing at Mabushi at 10 pm, where was he coming from and where was he going at that odd hour?
According to Kenneth, the police needs to expatiate more on the reporter’s movements to uncover what took him to the scene of the reported incident. He stressed that until more facts emerge, the current report is “not appealing”.
2. Miss Janet, a resident of Lugbe, demanded to know “who took the body of the journalist to the morgue; was it a ghost who took him there or the corpse took itself to the mortuary?
“This sounds so suspicious. Does it mean that the person who took the body to the mortuary has not heard or read from any news platform that a person was missing? Did he or she even report the incident to any law enforcement agency? I feel there are questions that need to be answered”.
3. A civil servant who preferred anonymity, asked, “How can they tell us that the said General Hospital just deposited the body without proper documentation? Did they just drop the body at the morgue and walk away?
“I perceive something fishy. We are too intelligent for this type of story. They should make a proper investigation or polish their story very well.”
Recall that the force spokesman also said that “physical and positive identification including an ID card issued by Vanguard Newspapers identifying him as Henry Tordue Salem and a staff and a temporary ID card from the National Assembly identifying him as a member of the House of Reps, Press Corps were recovered from the corpse on Thursday by the police.
4. Reacting to the identity discovery, another respondent, Mr Kolawole asked, “Are they telling the public that the mortuary attendant didn’t remove the dress from the corpse to wash it? How come he was unable to get the ID cards since about a month ago until the police went there on Thursday?
Kolawole, alleged that the entire story looks somehow, stressing that the controversy surrounding the death must be properly investigated to ascertain the real cause and to uncover the perpetrators.
5. A businesswoman, Mrs Terwase who spoke to our correspondent from Benue State, asked, “the suspect arrested must have killed someone with his vehicle as being reported but how are we sure that the person his vehicle knocked down was actually the missing reporter?
“If they can’t tell us how the body was taken to the morgue, then it means they don’t know where he died. The hit-and-run driver must have knocked down a criminal, not Mr Salem. How can your car hit someone and his phone will just hang on your vehicle and would not fall down despite the speed until you reach your destination? They should come up with fresh details. We can’t accept this one”.
Similarly, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Friday expressed shock over the “sudden and mysterious recovery of the body of the deceased reporter.
The governor stated that how the police recovered the reporter’s remains was suspicious and deserved to be thoroughly investigated by a competent body.
The Governor, therefore, appealed to the Inspector General of Police, the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS) and other sister agencies to do everything possible to unravel the mystery surrounding the gruesome murder of the Benue-born journalist.
Also, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) FCT Council called on the Federal Government to institute an independent probe into circumstances surrounding the death of Tordue Salem, saying reports from police remain unclear.
In a press statement, Friday in Abuja, jointly signed by Comrade Emmanuel Ogbeche and Ochiaka Ugwu, chairman and secretary of the council respectively, the union said the very fact that the family of the deceased, as well as the leadership of the union, were not contacted prior to the public announcement of the finding of his corpse, remains suspicious as well as the identity of whoever deposited it at the morgue.