Suspected mastermind of ThisDay bombing pleads ‘not guilty’
by Agency Reporter
Mustapha Umar, the alleged mastermind of the ThisDay Newspaper House bombing, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the charge against him at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The police brought a one-count charge against Umar under the Terrorist Prevention Act 2011.
ThisDay office in Abuja was bombed on April 26, 2012 by a suspected suicide bomber.
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that Umar’s plea could not be taken when he was arraigned on January 29 because he had no legal representation.
Umar’s re-arraignment was adjourned to enable him to engage a defence counsel.
Counsel to the accused person, Mr. Friday Umahi, however, filed an oral application urging an order of the court to allow him access to Umar in custody.
Umahi further sought the order of court to grant permission to the accused person’s family members to visit him in detention.
The prosecution counsel, Mr. Simeon Labaran, however, opposed the “second leg’’ of the application.
He said that “in view of the nature of the offence, allowing family members access to the accused person may be a risk.’’
Delivering ruling on the application, Justice Ademola Adeniyi ordered the prison authority to allow the accused person access to his lawyers when the need arose.
He, therefore, refused to grant an order compelling the prison authority to permit family members of the accused to visit him while in custody.
“I have looked at the submissions of the two counsel on the application and I consider it reasonable for parties to show maturity in the handling of this case.
“The country is signatory to many legal and Human Rights treaties that guarantee the protection of inmates.
“The accused person, however, remains innocent until proven otherwise; he is also entitled to have access to his lawyer or lawyers.
“In fact it is in the interest of the accused person not to allow members of his family to besiege the Kuje Prison to distract his mood.
“It would serve him well if left alone with his lawyers to prepare his defence in view of the magnitude of the allegation,’’ he said.
Adeniyi ordered the prosecution counsel to avail the court and the defence counsel with the charge sheet, statement of the case and the list of witnesses as well the proof of evidence within two weeks.