ABUJA— Federal Government, yesterday, charged eight suspected Boko Haram members for felony before an Abuja Magistrate’s Court.
The eight were allegedly among those who bombed Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, office on the eve of last April’s general elections; the bombing of All Christians Fellowship Church, Suleja; bombing of political rally in Suleja, Niger State, as well as, the bombing of Dkana Village in Bwari Area Council, Abuja.
In all, 25 people were killed in the separate attacks, with several others sustaining varying degrees of injuries.
The accused persons who were arraigned before Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewunmi were: Shuaibu Abubakar, Mohammed Danladi, Salihu Ahmed, Ahmed Hassan Ezemakor, Umar Babagana Umar, Mohammed Ali, Musa Adam and Umar Ibrahim.
One of the kingpins, Bashir (surname not provided by State Security Services, SSS, officials) is still at large.
Reading the charges to the accused, Chief Magistrate Oyewunmi said, “you are alleged to have unlawfully conspired with Bashir (now at large) to prepare, plant and detonate IED, Improvised Explosive Device, at various public places by force of arm to cause grievous bodily hurt to innocent persons and did execute the said conspiracy which led to the death of 16 persons at the INEC office in Suleja, on April 8, 2011.
“Death of three persons at a political rally in Suleja on March 3,2011;
“Death of three peace officers on May 3, 2011 at Dkana village in Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and death of three persons at All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja on July 10,2011.”
Suspects plead innocence
All the accused persons when asked to take a plea, told the Chief Magistrate that they understand Hausa language, and at this juncture, the Chief Magistrate appointed an interpreter, who read the charges for them.
Seven of them pleaded not guilty to the charges except the fourth accused, Ahmed Hassan Ezemakor, who owned up on the level of his conspiracy in the dastardly act.
At this point, the Chief Magistrate, through the advice of the Federal Government prosecutor, C.I Osagie, entered the plea of guilty for Ezemakor, pending the commencement of the real trial.
Though the accused persons were not represented by lawyers, the Chief Magistrate advised them to seek the service of lawyers to represent them at the next hearing, saying, “you have the right to get lawyers to defend you.”
Prosecuting lawyer, Osagie who told the magistrate that investigations into the case has been concluded, said, some arrests have been made and that others will continue.
She thereafter said, “we shall now apply for a date that the court will not be crowded because of the profile of this case”.
The Chief Magistrate, while adjourning the case, ordered that the accused persons should be remanded in the custody of State Security Service, SSS, till October 4, 2011, the next hearing date.
The trip from the SSS Headquarters located in Asokoro District of the FCT to Wuse Zone 2, the venue of the trial of the suspects, was witnessed with a long convoy of vehicles, which was largely made up of SSS personnel.
The arrangement by the SSS officials escorting the suspects to the court was almost mistaken by many for the convoy of Mr. President as the Peugeot Boxer conveying the suspects was sandwiched by other cars driven by the security agents.
Before the arrival of the suspects, the court premises was almost empty as the security men had combed the environment and took positions against any security breach.
In fact, immediately the car conveying the suspects stopped, the hefty SSS operatives who were armed to the teeth ordered the workers at the balcony upstairs to stop moving down stairs.
The court premises experienced extra ordinary silence, throughout the less than an hour court session.
-BY CHRIS OCHAYI