The alleged mastermind of the Christmas day bomb explosion that killed about 44 persons and wounded 75 others at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, in 2011, Kabiru Umar, a.k.a Kabiru Sokoto, yesterday stood before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The Federal Government, through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, entered a three-count amended terrorism charge against the alleged kingpin of the Boko Haram Islamic sect, fifteen months after he was arrested by the Police.
Kabiru Sokoto was initially arrested by the Police in Abuja on January 14, 2012, only for him to be declared missing two days later, a development that culminated in the sack of erstwhile Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, and the dismissal of former Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Zakari Biu who was alleged to be complicit in the escape of the accused terrorist.
The suspect, who was also accused of training over 500 men on how to manufacture and detonate Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, was re-arrested on February 10, 2012, and had remained in the custody of the Department of State Service, DSS, since then.
He was said to have instituted his terrorist training camp at Abaji, a suburb town in Abuja.
Brought to court amid tight security, Kabir, could not enter his plea to the three-count amended charge, dated March 19, 2013, owing to his inability to secure a lawyer.
Shortly after he mounted the dock, the suspect, who was clad in white Kaftan, told the court that he did not understand English language, thus forcing the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, to stand-down the case to enable the court produce an interpreter for him.
When the matter resumed, Kabir insisted on engaging a defence lawyer, alleging that since the day he was arrested, the security agency barred him from speaking to any lawyer.
Besides, the accused person told the judge that it was only yesterday morning that he was informed that he was going to court, even as he pleaded the court to give him two weeks to perfect his defence strategies.
At that juncture, the prosecuting counsel, Mrs. Chioma Onuegbu, served a copy of the charge to the accused person right inside the dock.
Before adjourning till April 19 to take the plea of the accused person, Justice Ademola expressed his displeasure with the Federal Government, noting that even though the initial charge against Kabir was filed since March 6, 2012, the prosecution only filed its amended charge yesterday.
“The Chief Judge has always warned us to ensure that sensitive terrorism cases like this are always treated with dispatch, and we, as judges, always do everything within our powers to fast-track such matters.
“However, it is most unfortunate that you are just filing this amended charge today,” the Judge fumed.
Consequently, he ordered the federal government to serve statement of evidence and all other evidence on the accused person before the arraignment date, just as he ordered the prosecution to prepare “trial indictment and evidence”, before that day, saying same should be accordingly served on the accused.
The judge directed that the prosecution must prepare a written case summon and serve on Kabir before April 12, as well as specify whether the federal government had the intention of adduce additional evidence against the accused person in the course of the trial.
He ordered that the accused be remanded in the custody of the SSS, pending his arraignment.
Specifically, the 3-count amended charge against the accused person read: “That you Kabiru Umar (Alias Kabiru Sokoto ) member of an illegal terrorist organization known and called Boko Haram, between 2007 and 2012 at Mabira Sokoto, Sokoto state did facilitate the commission of terrorist act to wit: by planting and encouraging your boys (now at large) at Mabira Sokoto, in Sokoto state with the intention to bomb the police headquarters Sokoto and some of the government organizations in the state and thereby committed an offence contrary to section15(2) of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under the same Act.
“That you Kabiru Umar (Alias Kabiru Sokoto ) on or about the 25th December, 2011 at St Theresa’s catholic church, Madalla, Niger State, had information about the bombing of Madalla Catholic Church and fails to disclose it to law enforcement officer as soon as reasonable practicable, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 7(1) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011, and punishable under section 33(1) of the same Act.
“That you Kabiru Umar (Alias Kabiru Sokoto ) about July 2011 at Abaji, support the act of terrorism by training about 500 men and inciting them to commit a terrorist act, and thereby committed an offence contrary to section4(1) (a) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011, and punishable under section 33(1) (b) of the same Act.”[Vanguard]