About a month after he went missing in Abuja, the Police sought to put an end to the frantic search and agitations for the rescue of Vanguard reporter, Tordue Salem on Friday.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank delivered the bad news that Salem’s remains have been discovered at a morgue at Wuse General Hospital to his colleagues.
According to the police spokesperson, Salem died after he was hit by a driver around Mabushi/Wuse area of Abuja metropolis at about 10p.m. on 13 October when he went missing.
The Police spokesperson added that the driver ran away after he hit the reporter and never reported the accident to the police.
The Force PRO added that Salem’s body, already identified by members of his family, was deposited at Wuse General Hospital.
He said that the body was deposited at the mortuary after being knocked down by a “hit and run” commercial driver in charge of a Toyota Camry, 2013 model, with registration number BWR 243BK.
On interrogation, Mba said that the driver said that he had a hit and run incident somewhere around Mabushi-Wuse interchange Oct. 13, the night the Vanguard journalist was reportedly missing.
He said the driver had confessed that, after knocking down the unknown pedestrian at about 10 p.m, he continued his journey and ended up his activities for the day.
“The driver drove his car to Good Friends Garage at Mpape area of Abuja where he normally pack his vehicle daily for a fee.
“At this time, his vehicles had been badly damaged, especially, the windscreen.
“He parked the car at the garage and when he arrived in the place the next morning, he found a broken phone, stocked in between the smashed windscreen.
“The driver pulled out the smashed phone and threw it away to where some young persons playing in the garage picked it up,” he said.
Mba said that the children had made efforts to make voice call with the SIM card taken from the smashed phone.
“On the strength of this, detectives, on Nov. 11, moved to the General Hospital Wuse
“A body believed to be that of Salem was found at about 11.20 a.m at Wuse General Hospital Mortuary.
But he said the police were able to retrieve three identity cards and two Automated Teller Machine, ATM, cards of two commercial banks when the body was searched.
The identity were that of Vanguard, National Assembly and Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ.
This led the reporters to ask why the hospital authorities did not contact the family or the employer of the reporter given the identity cards found on his body.
Mba, who said Salem’s body has already been identified by members of his family blamed this on negligence on the part of the hospital
Police also paraded 29-year-old Itoro Clement, said to be the killer of the Vanguard reporter who told journalists that he thought the person he knocked down was an armed robber.
According to him, the reporter had hurriedly crossed the road as if he was being chased by some people.
Clement added that the spot where the incident occurred was notably notorious.
The disappearance of Salem who was covering the House of Representatives had led to agitations and protests by members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, to Abuja the headquarters of the Nigeria Police.
The NUJ had accused the police of not doing enough to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of the journalist during the protest which took place 13 days after Salem went missing.
Armed with various placards with inscriptions such as “Free Tordue Salem Now”, “Enough is Enough”, and “Defend Press Freedom,” the journalists, led by the NUJ-FCT Council Chairman, Emmanuel Ogbeche, had requested that the case be transferred to the special unit in the office of the IGP to be handled professionally and expeditiously.
“The IGP, Sir, as you are aware, a colleague of ours and a journalist of note, Mr. Tordue Henry Salem of the Vanguard Newspapers went missing on Wednesday, October 13, 2021 right in front of the Total Filing Station less than a 100 meters from the Force Headquarters.
“48 hours after fellow colleagues who cover the House of Representatives realized he had disappeared, a report was immediately incidented at the House of Representatives Police Division. This was followed by a petition to both your office and that of the Director General of the Department of State Service by his employers – Vanguard Media Ltd. This is outside calls by the leadership of the NUJ to senior officers of the Police” said Ogbeche.
The leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly had also called on police to expedite action on finding the missing journalist.