The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, denied bail to Dr. Mohammed Nazeef Yunus, a lecturer at the Kogi State University, accused of being the spiritual leader of a Boko Haram cell situated at Igala land in Kogi State. This came as the Department of State Service, DSS declared that the Kogi varsity lecturer propagated terrorism across the federation by the teaching of virtues of Jihad (Holy war).
The accused lecturer who had been in the custody of the Directorate of State Service, DSS, since October 30, 2013, was on February 3, transferred to Kuje Prison, Abuja, on the order of the trial high court.
Others the court ordered should remain in prison custody yesterday were Alhaji Salami Abdullahi and Umar Musa, who were both accused of belonging to the Boko Haram sect.
In a ruling, Justice Gabriel Kolawole said it would not be in the interest of justice to release the accused persons at this stage of their trial, stressing that in view of the prevailing atrocious acts of the Boko Haram sect in the North Eastern part of the country, it was safer to deny them bail.
Citing the wanton and mindless killing of innocent people, especially the recent massacre of students of the Federal Government College Buni Yadi by members of the Boko Haram, Justice Kolawole, said he was minded to exercise his discretionary powers to grant bail against the accused persons.
He maintained that the court, in exercising its discretion, must do so judicially and judiciously, “The bail applications are hereby refused,” the Judge held, even as he okayed accelerated hearing of the charge against them.
Besides, the court dismissed plea by the 2nd accused, Salami, to be released on health ground.
Meantime, the court yesterday slated their trial for March 18, 19, April 3 and May 6.
Government had alleged in an eight count charge before the court that the trio, within the months of May and October, 2013, at Ayangba in Kogi state, engaged in an act in furtherance of acts of terrorism by not only acquiring weapons, but also recruiting new members for the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
According to the charge, some of the weapons recovered from the accused persons included 2 AK-47 Rifles, 2 Magazines and 60 rounds of live ammunition.
By belonging and supporting the illegal activities of a proscribed organization, the government, said the action of the accused persons ran contrary to sections 4, 10, 12, 16(1) (4), 17 and 18 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013, as amended.
The accused persons had since pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Federal Government earlier disclosed its intention to call about six former students of the accused lecturer to appear as witnesses before the court with a view to establishing his complicity in the propagation of terrorism across the federation.
The prosecuting counsel, Mrs N.B Jones Nebo, told the court yesterday that there was a prima facie evidence to prove that Dr. Yunus, supervised the burial of weapons in the ground. “My Lord, we have also by way of evidence shown what the weapons were meant for. We have identified the ones we have discovered so far, which from all indications, were the case of keep this, we are getting more”, she added.
The DSS had maintained that the 44 years old lecturer and a graduate of Islamic University of Medina, Saudi Arabia, confessed that he had over 80 adherents, and hitherto conducted preaching sessions every last Saturday and Sunday of the month at Ethosho Secondary School Ojiolo, Dekina, Kogi.
He was said to have confessed that his adherents were specifically taught the virtues of Jihad (Holy war) and the sanctity of the Sharia system as an alternative form of governance.
However, in his application for bail, Dr. Yunus, argued that under the Nigerian Constitution, he ought to be presumed innocent until his guilt is established, contending that the same trial Judge earlier released Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume who was equally accused of having a relationship with the Boko Haram sect, on bail, pending the determination of the charge against him.
According to counsel to the accused person, Mr Hassan Liman , SAN, “I urge my Lord to grant the accused bail considering that he has made a convincing and compelling case to warrant the exercise of discretion in his favour.
He is a family man, a University Don with PHD. His detention has in no small measure, affected his academic relationship with the students. More so, there is no evidence that he has ever committed any offence before. I plead the court to take judicial notice of the antecedents of the accused person”, he added.
On his part, Salami, who was fingered as the major financier of the terrorist cell in Kogi state, yesterday, begged the court to release him from prison detention on health grounds.
Salami, through his lawyer, Chief James Ocholli, SAN, further tendered a medical report signed by one of his sons, Hayatu Abdullahi, a medical Doctor at Garki General Hospital, Abuja, which indicated that he has a critical medical condition that requires constant medical attention.
In the report, the 2nd accused person who was alleged to have hosted several nocturnal meetings that were held by leaders of the Boko Haram sect in Kogi state, was said to have at e point, went into coma for three months and was flown to London in an air ambulance.
Ocholli, told the court that his client received treatments at Wellington and London Bridge Hospitals in the United Kingdom, adding that there was no evidence linking him with any of the other accused persons.