By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal Government, yesterday, said it would not rest on its oars until the four persons accused of masterminding the October 1 bomb blasts that killed 12 persons in Abuja whilst Nigeria celebrated its independence day anniversary, are accordingly prosecuted.
The government made this position known on a day the alleged prime suspect, Charles Okah and his three alleged co-conspirators — Obi Nwabueze, Edmund Ebiware and Tiemkemfa Francis Osvwo a.ka General Gbokos — took turns to challenge the propriety of the criminal charges preferred against them in court.
The government maintained that their prosecution would not only serve as a deterrent to other terrorists within the country, but would also guarantee justice for the families of those that were killed as a result of the explosions.
The accused unanimously pleaded the trial high court yesterday to quash the entire criminal charges against them for want of incriminating evidence linking them with the alleged acts of terrorism and treasonable felony.
Arguing through their counsel, Oghenovo Otemu, Ugochukwu Ezekiel and Ibrahim Idris, the accused persons, maintained that the inability of the prosecuting counsel, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, to file the mandatory proof of evidence alongside the substantive charges against them, contravened the procedural requirements for criminal proceedings.
In his reply to their application, the prosecuting counsel, Dr Izinyon, urged the trial court to discountenance their submissions, insisting that the contention of the accused persons on the issue of proof of service was baseless since they have all been served with the requisite court processes, on January 5, sequel to an order of the high court.
After listening to submissions from both sides yesterday, trial Justice Gabriel Kolawole, adjourned the case till February 25, to deliver ruling on the preliminary objections raised by all the accused persons, even as he ordered that they should be remain in Kuje prison till that date.
Charles, who is younger brother to the embattled ex_leader of the movement for the emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, and the other accused persons, are answering to a 1_count charge with 22_particulars of overt acts of treason, as well as another 8-count criminal charge relating to the October 1 Abuja twin bomb blasts.
The federal government alleged that they conspired with Henry Okah and one Emmanuel Allison to make a direct attempt to endanger the life of President Jonathan by seeking to drive two motor vehicles wired with time_regulated explosive devices to the Eagle Square where the Independence celebration was taking place.
FG equally alleged that the accused persons between January 2 and March 15, 2010, within Port_Harcourt Rivers State and diverse places, conspired with Henry Okah, Chima Orlu, at large, and persons unknown, to make a direct attempt to endanger the lives of the Governor of Delta state, Edo state and Imo state by seeking to drive two motors vehicles wired with time regulated explosive devices into government house annex, Warri, Delta State, the venue of the Vanguard Post Amnesty Dialogue, where the said governors were in attendance, in order to cause a bomb blast for the purpose of levying war against the state.
It was said that a man lost his life as a result of that explosion.
Charles was specifically alleged among other offences, to have engaged the services of one Bassey Umoren, a welder, and paid him N50, 000, to construct hidden compartments into four motor cars, two of which were subsequently loaded with explosive devices at Port_Harcourt by Obi Nwabueze and Chima Orlu, at large, and positioned on 1st October at 0830 hours near the venue of the anniversary for the purpose of levying war against the state.
He was also accused of sending two consignments of army camouflage torches, bullet proof vests and boots to Allison for onward transmission to one Segun Llori alias Stone face, at large, for use by terrorists recruited by Henry Okah in the creeks of Niger Delta.