Counsel’s absence stalls trial of 7 Boko Haram suspects

Abuja – The trial of seven suspected Boko Haram members at the Federal High Court, Abuja, was stalled on Wednesday because of the absence of legal representation for the accused.

Usman Sani, Abdulrahman Musa, Mahmud Mohammed, Kabir Mohammed, Umar Danjuma, Ibrahim Abba and Abdullahi Lawan are accused of killing and raiding  banks in Bauchi State in 2011.

SUSPECTED-BOKO-HARAM-MEMBER

The judge, Justice A.R Mohammed, held that the court would take the pleas of the suspects without legal representation if they failed to make legal representation.

“The case carries a heavy penalty which hovers between life and death sentence, so we must give the suspects opportunity to defend themselves.

“In the light of this, the suspects are enjoined to get the services of lawyers on or before the next adjourned date of May 28.

“However, the court would have no option left than to take the plea of the suspects with or without legal representation on that day,’’ the judge said.

He ordered that the suspects be remanded at the Kuje Prison.

The suspects were alleged to have robbed some banks in Bauchi State in 2011 for the purpose of raising funds to support the Boko Haram sect.

The  court has failed twice to proceed with the trial because of none legal representation for the suspects.

At the resumed hearing, the prosecutor, Mr David Kwase, said that attempt to get legal assistance from the Nigeria Legal Aids Council for the suspects did not yield any positive result.

“My Lord, I did write to the Legal Aids Council as I promised to do in the last sitting but the council did not respond to my letter.

“I want to, therefore, suggest that the court accepts the arrangement of the suspects to defend themselves.

“My Lord, in fact from experience, it has always been a tug of war to get Boko Haram suspects to accept government paid lawyers,’’ he said.

The suspects were alleged to have raided Unity Bank of Nigeria Plc Alkaleri branch in Bauchi State, on July 18, 2011 and carted away N17.8 million.

They were accused of invading Intercontinental Bank Plc, Azare branch on Dec. 4, 2011 in the state and carted away the sum of  N7.3 million.

The suspects were also alleged to have attacked Guarantee Trust Bank in Azare, Bauchi State, on Dec. 4, 2011, where they stole another N25.1 million.

They were also accused of breaking  into the Alkaleri Divisional Police Headquarters  and assisted in the release of some terrorism suspects in detention.

At Tafawa Balewa Town, also in Bauchi State, the accused persons were alleged to have shot sporadically and in the process, killed DSP Ola Mukaila Adeleke.

Other police officers allegedly killed by the suspects in the raid of Dce.4, 2011 were  Babangida Ibrahim, Suleiman Ibrahim and Mohammed Adamu.

The prosecution said that by the actions, the suspects contravened Section 4(1)(a) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, which is punishable by death under Section 4(2) of the Act. (NAN)

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