BY TAYE OBATERU, WITH AGENCY REPORT
Jos—The Special Court Martial set up to try the former Brigade Commander of 33 Artillery Brigade, Bauchi, Brigadier General Muraina Raji over the escape of two detainees suspected to be Boko Haram members has visited the Wetland Detention Facility at the brigade as the defence and prosecution closed their cases last Friday.
This came as Monsignor Cletus Gotan, Parish Priest, Church of Immaculate Conception, Zaramaganda, Jos, advised Christians to shun provocative acts that could cause more violence in Plateau.
Gotan told the congregation that the will of God was for Christians to live peacefully with their neighbours, irrespective of their religious belief.
However, the Special Court Marshal’s visit to Bauchi, which was led by President of the Court Martial, Major General John Zaruwa, it was learnt, was to enable members of the court assess things in relation to the evidence adduced by both prosecution and defence.
Counsel to both the prosecution and defence are now to prepare their written addresses for presentation on a day to be fixed when the Court Martial reconvenes today (Monday).
Two witnesses testified for the prosecution while the accused and one other person testified for the defence.
Raji in his testimony denied the three charges against him, saying he did not facilitate the escape of the suspects as he gave clear order to the Garrison Commander to detain them.
He added that the soldier who aided the escape of the suspects had already confessed to the crime.
The second defense witness, Lt. Col. Aliyu Lapai testified that Raji gave instructions for the suspects to be kept safe and also provided adequate fund for their feeding.
However, one of the prosecution witnesses, Master Warrant Officer Vincent Kanu accused Raji of running an indisciplined command with no proper assignment of duties to officers and men.
In his evidence, an Intelligence Officer in the brigade, Captain Mohammed Nura said Raji was away on official trip to Darazo Local Government Area in Bauchi State when the suspects escaped, adding that he (Nura) was the one who called to inform him of the development.
A date is expected to be fixed for judgement after the presentation of the written addresses.
Meanwhile, Monsignor Gotan said, “no matter how difficult it may be, try to avoid anything that would ignite another crisis. It is important to abide by the will of God, our creator.”
The cleric stated that the only way out of the present predicament in the state “is dialogue and not physical confrontation which had claimed lives and property.
“There are civilised ways of handling difficult situations without shedding blood.”
Gotan further asked residents to stop spreading rumours, which according to him, serve no good.
“The past Sunday, there were rumours everywhere that a bomb was planted in churches, but nothing of sort took place,” he said.
He, however, urged Christians to be vigilant and volunteer necessary information that would assist the security agents to maintain peace.