By George Onah
Port Harcourt—The 57 suspected militants standing trial before a Rivers State High Court, Port Harcourt, have alleged that they were tricked into signing police statements because they were illiterates.
One of the suspects, Mr. Otonyemie Kuna, who said he dropped out of school in primary four, said the policeman who interrogated and took his statement at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Inspector Eno, wrote the statement and lured him into signing it.
Kuna, who hails from Tombia, Degema Local Government Area, said the Inspector promised that he would be released if he signed and since he could neither read nor write, he had to sign the statement.
During cross-examination, the suspect alleged that it was not true that he was arrested at a militants’ camp in Borokiri as claimed by the Joint Military Task Force, JTF.
Kuna said that himself along with about 100 others were picked up and detained by the JTF patrol gunboats as they sailed in different boats along the Bonny Island sea route. “Many of those arrested were later set free,” he told the court.
The trial judge, Justice Boma Diepiri, ordered the collation of all the statements of the accused for a “trial within trial” following the call by the prosecution for the statement to be admitted as exhibit.
Justice Diepiri admitted the first suspect’s statement as exhibit T-T1 and asked counsel to prepare their addresses so as to reduce time. He adjourned till July 15 for cousel to address the court during the trial within trial.
The court urged the parties to ensure that the case was quickly dispensed with.