By HUGO ODIOGOR
LAGOS—A Nigerian woman who was earlier selected as a juror in the trial of a 24-year- old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, for allegedly attempting to blow up a North-West Airline in Detriot on December 25, 2009, has been dropped.
District Judge Nancy Edmunds who announced the 12- member jury to sit in the trial said there were 12 jurors and four alternates while the Nigerian woman was dismissed after being identified earlier as being from Nigeria. The judge did not elaborate or explain the dismissal in court.
Meanwhile, Nigerian security agencies have been briefed to watch some key northern states- Kano, Kaduna, Katsina Bauchi and Plateau.
Informed security sources said the reports exclusively published by Vanguard had caused the security high command to be extra-vigilant for a possible misguided attack on government institutions, individuals and religious organisations by presumed admirers of the young Nigerian terror suspect
Abdulmutallab, a well-educated 24-year-old from an upper-class family, was directed by a radical Islamic cleric in Yemen to carry a pant bomb into the aircraft for a possible terrorist attack.
The trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is suspected to be a flashpoint in the country where some radical youths with connections in political circles are believed to be sympathetic to his action and have been plotting to unleash their own attacks on Western interests and targets in the country to make political statements.
Lawyers had not objected to keeping the Nigerian woman in the jury pool when she was questioned in court Wednesday. She had said on a jury questionnaire that she was “embarrassed” at the time of the attack. “We all feel it as a community,” she said in court.
She will now be replaced by one of the four alternates and a new alternate will be chosen. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin Tuesday next week. Abdulmutallab has pleaded not guilty to eight charges, including conspiracy to commit terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
The government says he wanted to blow up the plane by detonating chemicals in his underwear, just seven minutes before the jet carrying 279 passengers and a crew of 11 was to land at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
The failed suicide attack, the first act of terrorism in the U.S. during the Obama administration, revealed the rise of a dangerous al-Qaida affiliate and the growing influence of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. military strike in Yemen last week.
The Nigerian-born bomber was defiant as he appeared in court, calling America a “cancer”, which is the belief of radical Islamic groups who see the super power as the cause of the world problem. Security sources, however, told Vanguard that the security agencies have braced up for Mutallab’s admirers who may want to hit back at United States and its interest.