Mustapha Umar, 34, a member of the Boko Haram sect was on Friday sentenced to life imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja over his involvement in the April 26, 2012 bombing of SOJ Plaza in Kaduna where three newspapers, Thisday, The Sun and The Moment had their offices.
Umar was convicted on one count of terrorism for the bombing. Umar, in what appeared to be a suicide attempt, drove a white Honda with registration number AL 306 MKA with improvised explosives devices into the premises of the plaza and detonated it, killing 3 people and injuring several others. He was apprehended by a mob as he attempted to flee the scene of the bombing.
Incidentally, around the same time, another suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into the Abuja headquarters of This Day newspaper killing at least 6 people.
Umar’s conviction coming two days after the United States designated the Boko Haram sect as a terrorist group is the first under Nigeria’s Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011.
While noting that in the course of the trial, the accused did not show any sign of remorse for his actions, Justice Ademola Adeniyi found his reason for the bomb attack untenable. Umar had given denigration of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) as reason for the attack.
While the prosecution team pushed for a death sentence, the defence counsel pleaded for leniency, stating that the convict is a youth and he has a family and aged parents who depend on him for livelihood.
The court however sentenced him to life imprisonment with a fine of N150million to families of victims of the terror act, which will be paid by the committee set up by President Goodluck Jonathan on peaceful resolution of security challenges in the Northern part of the country.