By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, slated June 21 to determine whether the federal government has adduced sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution of the alleged mastermind of the Christmas day bomb blast that killed about 44 persons and wounded 75 others at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, in 2011.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola fixed the date after the accused person and the federal government adopted written addresses yesterday.
The accused person, Kabiru Umar, a.k.a Kabiru Sokoto, had through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Hassan Lukman, maintained before the high court that he has no case to answer, insisting that the federal government failed to establish a prima-facie criminal case capable of warranting his conviction.
While praying the court to discharge and accquit him from the 2-count terrorism charge that was preferred against him by the government, contended that none of the six witnesses that testified against him, was able to establish a nexus linking him to the commission of the alleged offence.
Arguing through his lawyers, Sokoto, in his no-case-submission, further queried the propriety of allowing him to pass through the rigours of trial “in view of the fact that the prosecution has failed to tender any evidence connecting the accused to the alleged offence.”
In such criminal trial, a no case submission is made when an accused person believes that the prosecution failed to prove the ingredients of the offence for which he is charged or that the evidence adduced in court was such that a judge cannot rely upon to pass a sentence.
Sokoto was said to be a kingpin of the Boko Haram Islamic sect was initially docked before the high court on May 20.
Aside allegation that he trained over 500 men on how to manufacture and detonate Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, the federal government, alleged that he had prior knowledge that the sect planned to bomb the church on Christmas day but failed to disclose it to law enforcement officer as soon as reasonable practicable.
He was said to have between 2007 and 2012, at Mabira Sokoto, Sokoto state, facilitated the commission of terrorist act including planting bombs at the Police headquarters and some government organizations in the state.
FG told the court that the accused person instituted his terrorist training camp at Abaji, a suburb town in Abuja.
Though he was previously arrested by the Police in Abuja on January 14, 2012, he was however declared missing two days later.
His mysterious escape from custody had culminated to the sack of the erstwhile Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim and former Commission of Police in-charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Zakari Biu who was out rightly dismissed from the Force.
He was subsequently re-arrested on February 10, 2012.
It will be recalled that the last prosecution witness informed the court that Sokoto had confessed that one of the recognized leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, told him that only members of the sect that have been initiated into the “Shurah” cadre, are allowed to know the ideology behind the current insurgency in the Northern part of the country.
The witness told the court that Sokoto had disclosed that whereas members of the “Shurah” which he belongs to, plan and mastermind attacks, other lay members are recruited to execute terrorist agenda of the sect.
However, Sokoto, through his lawyer, faulted the testimony of the masked witness, maintaining that he used the Hausa word “Anche” in his statement, a word he said means “they said.”
He told the court that he was only referring to what he was told by those affiliated to the sect.
One of the witnesses had earlier narrated before the court how a donation of N40million divided the sect.
According to the witness, Sokoto had in a statement he made on January 14, 2012, confessed that out of the said N40million which he said was received from another terrorist group in Algeria, he got the sum of N500, 000, being the recognized Governor of Sokoto State in the hierarchy of the group.
He told the court that the accused person admitted that he used his share of the money and bought Quran and other Islamic religious books, even as he allegedly volunteered the names of two members of the sect that bombed Catholic church at Madalla, Niger State, on Christmas day.
The witness further told the court that Sokoto gave the names of the two perpetrators as Bashir Mohammed and Muhktar Kafanchan, saying the federal government is currently on the trail of the said culprits.
Besides, the witness who was simply identified as “Mr ABC” testified that the accused person confessed that it was not suicide bombers that attacked the church, but that the bombs were detonated from a car that was parked near the church.
Likewise, another witness, “Mr DEF”, narrated how Sokoto hid behind a wardrobe on February 10, 2012, a day he was re-arrested at Sabongida in Taraba state, few days after he escaped from police custody in Abuja.
The witness who is an operative of the Department of State Service, DSS, told the court that upon his arrest, Sokoto was found with a Nokia phone and six different Sim cards.