An Abuja High Court on Tuesday sentenced four of the perpetrators of the bomb attack that rocked the Suleja office of the Independent National Electoral Commission on the eve of the commencement of the 2011 elections to life imprisonment. The April 8 explosion killed at least 16 people and also damaged public property.
The convicted persons Salisu Ahmed, Mohammed Ali, Shuaibu Abubakar and Umar Babagana Umar faced a 5-count charge bordering on sundry acts of terrorism and were sentenced having been found guilty. Umar Ibrahim, another accused person got a 10-year jail term. Delivering the judgment, Justice Bilikisu Aliyu disclosed that innocence and tender age were responsible for the reduced penalty in his case. Musa Adam, the 6th respondent in the case was discharged and acquitted on the ground that none of the charges that were brought against him linked him with any of the terrorist activities for which they stood trial.
After their arrest in July 2011, the State Security Service arraigned the quartet before Justice Bilikisu Aliyu.
In the course of the trial, four mobile phones seized from the suspects were part of what the prosecution relied on to press home its case. Witnesses told the court that one of the phones carried promises of incentives and codes on how to detonate explosives. One of the messages read in part “do a deed which Allah by His grace and mercy saves you from the punishment of the grave and a dangerous bridge with the speed of light, save you from the greatest fear. Allow you safe from hell fire, 70 members of your family shall marry you 72 virgins in paradise, give you a crown of respect which even the prophet will be impressed with.”
While the prosecuting counsel had told the court that the accused persons could not counter most of the evidence brought against them, Kelvin Okoro counsel to the defendants said the prosecution did not prove the allegations beyond reasonable doubt. Okoro had told the court during the trial that “my clients are miners and not bombers. My clients are not also members of Boko Haram but are just faithful of the Islamic religion”.