A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday frowned at the Federal Government’s non-exhibition of diligence in the prosecution of four suspected Boko Haram members being held over their alleged complicity in the 2011 bombing of the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja.
The four-Salisu Mohammed, Inusa Mukailu, Dan’azumi Haruna and Abdulsalami Adamu were all arrested in Kano shortly after the bombing incident that occurred on August 20, 2011.
They were arraigned on a four-count charge bordering on terrorism.
Presiding judge, Justice Gladys Olotu, expressed dismay that the prosecution, who had applied for and got the court’s permission for accelerated trial, was now reluctant to produce its witnesses months after its first witness testified.
Justice Olotu, in a ruling on an application for adjournment by the prosecution lawyer and an official of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. O. E. Ohakwe, held that by its conduct, the prosecution has not exhibited the willingness to diligently prosecuted the case.
The judge, who reviewed the history of the case, noted that the suspects were arraigned on May 7, 2013 after which the prosecution applied for and got the court’s permission for the accelerated hearing of the case.
She recalled that on June 11, the scheduled commencement of trial was stalled due to the inability of the prosecutor to provide all the needed material evidence to prosecute the case.
“Though the prosecuting counsel was able to bring one witness, Mr. Ibrahim Agu (PW1), however, she told the court that the other witness, CSP Augustine Pam, being expected would come from Jos.
“After a series of attempts to prosecute the four suspects had failed, the court had to adjourn the matter to October 10 and 11, 2013 for the prosecuting counsel to call up the second witness, but to no avail.
“At the last adjourned date of November 20, the prosecuting counsel told the court that the witness was seriously ill and could not climb the staircase of the Federal High Court. As a result of that, the court granted an adjournment for the witness to appear in court.
“Today, the prosecutor came to court and could not produce the witness in spite of the patience of the court to grant an adjournment, even when there was no substantial evidence to show that the witness was ill,” the judge said.
Justice Olotu noted that the first prosecution witness has concluded his evidence, but the prosecution has been unable to produce its proposed second witness to commence his testimony in court.
“The prosecution counsel has come up with her stories in spite of the fact that there was unsubstantiated medical report to show that the witness was incapacitated.
“He was ill, but travelled all the way from Jos to Abuja and could not climb the staircase on November 20. The matter was adjourned to today. He failed to appear in court, but was able to travel back to Jos.
“The court cannot continue to take these stories from the prosecution any longer. I, therefore, make an order that the prosecution should close her case against the suspects” the judge held.
Following the court’s order, Mrs Ohakwe closed the prosecution’s case.
Defence lawyer, Ken Obiduruzo, applied for a short date to enable him tender his application for a no-case submission on behalf of the accused persons.
Justice Olotu adjourned to January 22 next year for adoption of parties’ written submissions in relation to the the defence’s no-case-submission.