7th October, 2013
Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Trial of suspected mastermind of the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic church in Madala, Niger state, central Nigeria, Mr. Kabiru Umar, also known as Kabiru Sokoto, came to its conclusion with his lawyer, Mr. Sheriff Okoh making a last ditch effort to save his life.
At the adoption of their defence on Monday, Mr. Okoh urged the court to discharge and acquit his client of all counts of the terrorism charge slammed against Kabiru Sokoto on the ground that documents tendered by the State Security Service, SSS, purported to have been a confessional statement of his client as well as those of investigators who investigated the matter were all of suspicious origin having emanated and authored by one man, the Investigation Police Officer who investigated the matter.
The defence attorney contended that Kabiru Sokoto who was arrested on the 14th of January, 2012 left the custody of the Police on the 15th of January after being taken to his home at Abaji, a suburb of the Federal Capital city, from where he reportedly escaped from the custody of the Police but noted that this vital information was not indicated in the statements of the prosecution witnesses who claimed to have participated in the investigation of the matter.
“The IPO who investigated the fulcrum of the charge did not indicate that the accused had escaped their custody by the time he wrote his statement on the 17th of January, 2012. Not a single mention of the accused escape was mentioned by the man who investigated him. We submit that at the time these statements were written and signed by the same man, the Police Headquarters was on fire, both from the Presidency and from Nigerians over the escape of the suspect and the police was directed to track, locate and re arrest Kabiru
Sokoto and we believe that these statements were authored to deceive Nigerians, the whole world and particularly this court”.
He relied on the provision of section 167 of the Evidence Act which empowers the court to presume the existence of certain facts in the instant case and noted that what was tendered as his client’s confessional statement was authored by the police office who investigated the matter for the purpose of saving their necks.
Mr. Okoh further argued that his client did not have any knowledge of the bombing of St. Theressa’s Catholic Church, contrary to the charge, and that the prosecution failed to tender any material evidence to show that Kabiru Sokoto has any knowledge of the bomb attack before it took place or after the blasts.
On the charge against his client for being a member of Boko Haram sect, Sheriff contended that prior to the enactment of the prescription of Boko Haram where it was legally proscribed on 14th June, 2013, that membership of the sect as at then was not a crime and called on the court to hold that as at the time of his client’s arrest, that his membership of Boko Haram was not illegal since Nigeria is a secular state where citizens are at liberty to belong to any organization they desire.
In her response, the prosecution counsel, Ms. Chioma Onuegwu, urged the court to discountenance the submissions of the defence attorney on the grounds that they contain statements of fact which were not allowed when replying on points of law. She pointed out that she will have no room to respond to these facts and urged the court to strike the submissions off the court’s record.
Continuing, Ms. Onuegbu told the court that the prosecution has discharged the duty place upon them by proving beyond reasonable doubts that Kabiru Sokoto, by his confessional statement and other evidence placed before the court and urged the court to convict the accused.
The court thereafter adjourned tentatively to 7th November to deliver judgment on the matter.
Mr. Sokoto was arraigned on a three count charge by Nigeria’s secret police, the SSS, wherein he was alleged to have facilitated the commission of a terrorist act by planting and encouraging his boys who are said to be at large, at Mabira Sokoto in Sokoto state, with the intention to bomb the Police Headquarters in the state between 2007 and 2012. The offence is said to be contrary to section 15(2) of the Economic anf Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004.
He was also alleged to have been in possession of information about the bombing of 4t. Theresa’s Catholic Church on the 25th of December, 2011, but failed to disclose it to law enforcement officers within a reasonable time to forestall the incident and there by committed an offence contrary to section 7 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 and punishable under section 33 (1) of the same Act.