Seventeen suspected members of the proscribed Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, were yesterday arraigned at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
They were charged before Justice Ibrahim Buba following the withdrawal of Justice Musa Kurya, before whom the suspects were first brought.
The Lagos State government, represented by its Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs Olabisi Odugbesan, charged the suspects with seven counts of alleged terrorist acts and possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition.
The accused, are Ali Modu, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Ali, Ibrahim Bukar, Mohammed A. Mohammed, Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala, Kadri Mohammed, Mustapha Hassan, Abba Duguni, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya, Musa Bala, Bala Daura, Farouk Haruna and Abdula Zuladaini.
Journalists were barred from the courtroom by officers of the State Security Service (SSS), but it was learnt that the charge was read out in English and interpreted in Hausa.
The accused pleaded not guilty.
An attempt to arraign the accused on October 25 was stalled because five of them had no lawyers.
Yesterday, Mr. O.E Nwagbara represented the seventh accused; Mr. D. Dada represented the sixth and eight to 17th accused. The first to fifth accused were not represented by any lawyer.
Justice Buba ordered that the accused, be remanded in prison.
The charge said the accused were arrested at Plot 5, Road 69, Lekki Phase 1 Housing Estate; 24 Oyegbemi Street, Ijora Oloye, Apapa and an unnumbered bungalow on Oyegbemi Street, behind Celestial Church, Ijora Oloye on March 21.
The government said they conspired among themselves “to commit felony, to with: acts of terrorism” by having in their possession explosive substances, including three packets of explosive construction pipes and 15 detonators.
They were also allegedly in possession of 11 AK-47 rifle magazines loaded with 30 rounds of live ammunition each; 200 rounds of 7.62 mm live ammunition, one AK-47 rifle, two AK-47 rifle magazines with three rounds of live ammunition each, two suitcases containing explosives and one water container of explosives.
Also recovered from the suspects, the charge said, were one bag containing canisters, one HP laptop, five Nokia handsets and one red Volkswagen Golf car with registration number Lagos: SMK 427 AZ, allegedly meant to transport the explosives.
The offence is contrary to Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013 and punishable under Section 17 (b).
In another count, it was stated that Ibrahim Bukar and Kadri Mohammed, on the same day “knowingly entered into an arrangement as a result of which money is to be made available for the purpose of terrorism for a proscribed organisation to wit: Boko Haram sect.”
The government said the offence was contrary to Section 13 (2) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 and punishable under the same Act.
According to the fifth count, the accused were arrested by a team of security agents for being members of a proscribed organisation, the Boko Haram sect.
The alleged offence is said to be contrary to Section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice 2013 and punishable under the same Section 2 (3) (1) read in conjunction with Section 33 (1) (b) of the Act as amended.
The sixth count said they had in their possession prohibited firearms without a licence contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section.
Journalists were also barred on October 25 from covering the case. As proceedings were to begin, an SSS official asked everyone who was not a lawyer to leave the courtroom.
When the reporters identified themselves and explained why they were in court, the security agent said the press had been barred from covering the case.
He said the SSS got a directive from the Presidency not to allow journalists to cover the proceedings.
When the journalists complied and stood outside the courtroom, another armed SSS officer asked them to leave and not stay anywhere around the corridor.
“I give you five minutes to leave this place, or you will be handcuffed,” the security agent threatened.
The case first came up on October 2, but was adjourned till October 9 because the accused could not speak English and there was no interpreter around.
The case again could not go on on October 9 because the court did not sit.
Justice Buba adjourned till December 3 for trial.