Three Boko Haram members bag 25 years imprisonment
Lagos—A Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday, sentenced three alleged Boko Haram members, to 25 years imprisonment each, for acts of terrorism.
The convicts were among 17 accused, who were earlier charged before the court on November 27, 2013.
The 17 accused were: Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman, Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala, Kadiri Mohammed, Mustapha Daura, Abba Duguri, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya, Musa Audu, Mati Daura, Farouk Haruna, Abdullahi Azeez, Ibrahim Bukar and Zula Diani.
The Lagos State Government had arraigned the accused on an eight-count charge of acts of terrorism and possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition.
Trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, however, delivered judgment in camera, as journalists, and other lawyers were ordered to vacate the courtroom, leaving the prosecution and defence counsel.
The judge had earlier sought the views of lawyers in court, if it was within the law to deliver the judgment in the open court.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, had responded that since the trial was conducted in camera for security reasons, judgment should also be delivered in the same manner.
But Justice Buba who noted that even judges learn everyday, said he will like to do a brief research on the subject, and rose at 11.30a.m., with a promise to return by 12p.m.
At the resumed hearing, the judge again asked the parties to address him on the legality of giving judgment in camera.
The Attorney General of Lagos State Mr Ade Ipaye in response, said that if the trial was conducted in secret, the judgment should also be delivered in secret as the judgment was also an inherent part of the proceeding.
The defence team also maintained the same position.
Justice Buba subsequently ordered everyone except the parties and the security operatives to vacate the courtroom to allow him deliver his judgment. Newsmen who were ordered out of the courtroom, then approached the Deputy Chief Registrar and the Administrative Head of the Court, Mr. Bello Okandeji to complain that they were not allowed in the court, while at the same time they were required to give an accurate account of the judgment, which they were not allowed to witness.
Okandeji then led journalists to the court but was restrained by security men who told the DCR that they had specific instructions not to allow anyone into the courtroom.
After the court had risen, journalists also approached one of the lawyers, who witnessed the judgment.
It was gathered that although 17 of the accused had earlier been arraigned, the A-G had discontinued proceedings against 13 of them.
According to a source, the court had found the first three accused guilty of the offence as charged, and had accordingly sentenced them to 25 years imprisonment each.
“The fourth accused who, was charged with allegedly sponsoring the sect, was however, discharged and acquitted, on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish his guilt,” the source said.
It will be recalled that after the arraignment of the accused in 2013, journalists had also been barred from covering the proceedings.