By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
…Says witnesses are afraid to appear in court to testify
ABUJA—ALLEGED Boko Haram member, Mustapha Umar, who was accused of bombing the office of Thisday Newspaper in Kaduna, April 26, 2012, Wednesday, told a Federal High Court in Abuja that he has no case to answer regarding the terrorism charge against him.
The accused person, through his lawyer, Mr. Nuru Sulyman, stated this on a day the federal government closed its case having called 10 witnesses that testified against him, as well as tendered 21 separate exhibits with a view to establishing his culpability to the one-count charge before the court.
At the resumed hearing on the case, yesterday, the prosecuting counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran Magaji, brought his last witness, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State, who in his testimony, told the trial court that the Honda Car the accused person used to bomb Thisday office was snatched at gunpoint and its owner shot dead few months before the attack took place. The burnt car with number plate AL-306-MKA was earlier admitted into evidence and marked as exhibit MU-20.
The masked witness who was simply referred to as the PW-10 owing to the sensitive nature of the trial, further tendered a video evidence where the accused person confessed and gave reasons why he undertook to embark on a suicide mission against the media organization.
Though Mustapha made his confession in Hausa language, however, trial Justice Ademola Adeniyi, asked an interpreter to transcribe and translate the video interview between the police and the accused person in English, just as he ordered that a certified copy be made available to journalists.
In the interview which took place at the police clinic at Kaduna, the accused person, who said he was hitherto into the business of selling provisions, denied being a Boko Haram member, saying “I am only a Muslim and I promised to myself that as long as I am alive, whoever insulted a prophet of Allah I will revenge.”
When he was asked what informed his decision to attack the SOJ plaza in Kaduna which was occupied by Thisday, the Sun and Moment Newspapers, the accused replied: “Since that time when beauty contest was conducted, Thisday Newspaper insulted Prophet Mohammed that is why I went and did this to take revenge. My intention was to eliminate them that they will not work again. You know that whoever insults a prophet of Allah is not suppose to exist.”
Asked if he is a member of Boko Haram, he replied: “If I am a member of Boko Haram, I will face Police and Army. But I went to a Newspaper because I was thinking of the insult against the prophet of Allah which I intend to revenge. Had it been that I am a Boko Haram, why should I go to a Newspaper House?
At that juncture, he was asked by the police interviewer, “That means you know what Boko Haram group are looking for?” and he replied, “Yes, the government. They are killing security agents; they hate the Army and Police. But this of Thisday Newspaper let tell you hence you forget, since the time they drew a picture in the likeness of prophet of Allah, I promised to revenge.
“There is tradition of the prophet which says that whoever insulted the prophet of Allah should be killed. For some years back I was praying for God to give me this opportunity to perpetrate this action and today God has given me the chance,” he added.
The accused further confessed that he was trained by one Sheik Ja’afar M. Adam, adding that he had alongside two of his friends Ibrahim and Mallam Nasuru, constructed the Improvised Explosive Device, IED, he used to carry out the attack, using gas cylinder, urine powder, chemicals and wire.
Meantime, the accused person yesterday expressed his intention to make a no-case-submission, even as he urged the court to issue an order for the protection of some witnesses he intends to produce to testify in his favour, saying most of them were afraid that they may be arrested by the government after their testimony.
Consequently, Justice Adeniyi directed the defence counsel to file a formal application for witness protection order, just as he gave the accused person seven days to file and serve his no case application.
Besides, the Judge granted the federal government three days to respond to the application and gave the accused another three days to reply on points of law. The matter was subsequently adjourned till June 24 to enable the parties to adopt their processes.