By Boluwaji Obahopo
LOKOJA — Five suspected members of the Boko Haram sect were yesterday arraigned before a Lokoja chief magistrate’s court 1 over alleged involvement in the kidnap of children of the Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Alhaji Momoh-Jimoh Lawal.
The suspects, Ibrahim Garba, Usman Musa, Husseini Ovaku, Husseini Umar and Ogah Sunday, were charged with criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, membership of an unlawful organisation and kidnapping contrary to Sections 97(1), 289(c) and 100 of the Penal Code Law and 3(3) and 7 of the Kogi State Kidnapping, Thuggery and other related Offences (Prohibition) Law, 2010.
According to Mohammed Abaji, Senior Legal Officer with the state Ministry of Justice, the suspects on April 15 invaded the private residence of the Speaker in Okengwe, Okene Local Government Area of Kogi State armed with sophisticated weapons and kidnapped his two sons, three-year-old Hafiz and six-year-old Ogirima.
Abaji said the suspects took the children away in a dark blue Toyota Yaris car with number plate: Lagos: AKD 224 AY belonging to their mother and later demanded N200 million ransom for their release.
The children were released were Friday June 6, 53 days after their abduction.
Abaji said investigations revealed that the accused and others now at large, who were members of an unlawful association, the Boko Haram, masterminded the kidnap, saying: “It was also revealed through their confessional statements that a Boko Haram leader, simply known as Musa, trained them in weapons’ handling in a forest on Ajaokuta-Okene road, about two-hour walk from the highway into the forest.”
Abaji also alleged that the suspects also carried out the robbery attacks on Ajaokuta and Auchi branches of FirstBank of Nigeria Plc and other robberies in Kaduna State.
He, however, said investigations were on-going and applied for another date for mention, but urged the court to remand the suspects in prison custody in view of the enormity of the alleged offences.
However, counsel to the 1st, 2nd to 4th and 5th accused, Kevin Fenaiye, Safiya Abdullahi and Shuaibu Ibrahim, respectively in their oral applications for bail cited Section 36(5) of the constitution among others, emphasizing presumption of innocence of the accused.
In his ruling, Chief Magistrate Levi Animoku, who denied the accused bail, said the laws equally prescribed restraint of an accused where and when necessary.
He said: “In view of the weight of punishment, especially for kidnapping which is life imprisonment without an option of fine, in line with the state laws, it was not safe to admit the accused to bail. I am not convinced to grant them bail. The application is hereby refused.”
The chief Magistrate ordered the accused to be remanded in Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe and adjourned till September 17.