An Abuja Federal High Court Judge has threatened to discontinue the trial of some policemen accused of killing the founder of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf.
The development followed the failure of the prosecution to produce witnesses in court.
Five policemen – J.B. Abang (Assistant Commissioner of Police), A. Akeera (Assistant Commissioner of Police), Mohammed Ahmadu (Chief Superintendent of Police), Mada Buba (Assistant Superintendent of Police) and Adamu Gado (Sergeant) – are being tried on a two-count charge bordering on conspiracy and murder over the extra-judicial killing of Yusuf and his followers.
Justice Evoh Chukwu threatened to stop the trial at the continuation of proceedings in the case on Wednesday when the prosecution lawyer, Austin Atubu, failed to produce a witness scheduled to testify against the accused persons.
Atubu informed the court that his witness, Mohammed Yakubu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, attached to the Special Investigation Unit at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, was ill.
Yakubu was expected to continue his testimony on Wednesday, having commenced giving evidence at the last sitting in the trial.
The prosecutor explained that the witness was suffering from “severe hypertension” and has taken three days off-duty in order to treat the ailment.
The prosecutor therefore asked for an adjournment, to the chagrin of the judge.
The judge warned the prosecutor to refrain from causing undue delays in the trial, adding that he would strike out the case if such excuses were repeated.
“This is the last time this court will entertain any form of delay either from the prosecution or the defence.
“Otherwise, I will strike out this matter,” he said.
Justice Chukwu adjourned the trial to March 24.
The development stalled a ruling in which the court was set to decide whether it could admit as evidence, a digital video disk containing the recording of how the killings were carried out.
The court was also set to decide the admissibility of copies of correspondences between the police investigative team and the management of a foreign television channel, Aljazeera.
The prosecution told the court that a video recording of Yusuf’s killing, which was aired on Aljazeera, aided the identification and arrest of the accused persons.
But the accused persons are opposing the admissibility of the materials.
It would be recalled that, while testifying during the last sitting in the trial, the witness, Yakubu, had told the court how the five policemen were identified as Yusuf’s killers.
Yusuf and some of his followers were initially arrested by men of the Nigerian Army before they were handed over to the policemen, who in turn executed them.
Narrating how the alleged killers were apprehended, Yakubu said, “The first thing we did was to transfer the file of the case from Borno to our office at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.
“We later received from Aljazeera Television, a video that contained the allegation.
“We sent the video to the Nigerian Film Corporation in Jos for them to authenticate whether it is genuine or not, which they did and later returned to us.
“After that we received the post mortem and autopsy report of the allegedly murdered Yusuf and his followers.
“We thereafter invited all the officers on ground at the Borno Police Command.”
The five policemen were subsequently arrested and charged over the killings.