By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, yesterday, ordered an accelerated trial of the alleged mastermind of the April 14 bomb blast that killed over 75 persons at a crowded motor park in Nyanya Abuja, Aminu Ogwuche.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed made the order on a day Ogwuche and five other suspects that were allegedly involved in the terrorist act, told the court that they would not apply to be released on bail.
The other accused persons who were docked before the high court alongside Ogwuche yesterday were Ahmad Rufai Abubakar (a.k.a Abu Ibrahim/Maiturare), Mohammed Sani Ishaq, Ya’u Saidu (a.k.a Kofar Rama), Anas Isah, Adamu Yusuf and Nasiru Abubakar.
They however could not enter their plea to the seven-count terrorism charge that was preferred against them by the Federal Government owing to the absence of an Hausa interpreter in court yesterday.
Trial Justice Mohammed informed counsel to the accused persons that he had permitted the court interpreter who was assigned to the case to travel to his village to take care of his sick wife.
He said that the interpreter came to his office crying that he got a message that his wife fell ill and was rushed to the hospital.
Justice Mohammed noted that in view of the fact that 3rd and 4th accused persons cannot understand the English language, “if the charge cannot be read in the language they understand, it will amount to a breach of their constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right” , he added.
Besides, the Judge said the sensitive nature of the case made it imperative that he followed all the conventions in prosecuting the accused persons.
He therefore urged counsel to all the accused persons not to file frivolous applications capable of delaying the trial unduly.
In his reaction, Ogwuche’s lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, told the court that all the defence counsels met and agreed that they would not file any application for bail until the final determination of the charge.
“Everybody in the society is anxious to know what really happened. We will all corporate with this court and the DPP. We are however praying for an accelerated hearing of this case”, he submitted.
Likewise, the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mr. Mohammed Diri, told the court that the government had already assembled all its witnesses, saying they all stay within Abuja and are ready to appear in court at the shortest notice.
Consequently, Justice Mohammed adjourned till March 6 to take the plea of all the accused persons who were alleged to be members of Jama’atu Ahli Sunnah Lil Da’awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram.
The DPP had earlier told the court that security agencies have not been able to apprehend one Ahmed Rufai (a.k.a Dr Tsiga), who he said was also involved in the terrorist act, but currently at large.