Boko Haram: Absence of Lead Prosecuting Counsel Stalls Trial

The absence of the prosecution counsel on Tuesday stalled the trial of alleged seven Boko Haram suspects.
The suspects, who were arraigned before Justice John Tsoho of Federal High Court, Abuja, are Mohammed Usman (aka Khalid Albarnawi), described as the leader of a Boko Haram splinter group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (a.k.a ANSARU); Mohammed Bashir Saleh, Umar Bello (aka Abu Azzan); Mohammed Salisu (Datti); Yakubu Nuhu (aka Bello Maishayi); Usman Abubakar (Mugiratu) and a lady, Halima Haliru.
They are being tried for conspiracy, hostage taking, supporting a terrorist group, membership of a terrorist group, illegal possession of firearms and concealing information on terrorism.
They are facing on 11-count charge of abduction and murder of their victims in February 2013.
The defendants allegedly abducted seven foreigners from a construction site in Bauchi and taken to the Sambisa Forest, in Borno, where they were murdered .
At the resumed trial on Tuesday the prosecuting counsel Adeola Hope who held brief for Shuaibu Labaran informed the court of the ill health of the lead prosecuting counsel .
She said the lead counsel was unavoidable absent due to his health and urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable him come and continue with the prosecution.
Opposing the application for adjournment, the defence counsel led by S. N. Abba, said that there is no law that states when the lead counsel is absent the matter can not hold.
He stated that the lead counsel had on the last adjourned date came with large number of lawyers in order to move their motion of remanding the defendants.
The defence lawyers further stated that the prosecution team is not showing any sign of evidence to commence the trial since they have not filed all the needed witness’ statements.
They added that for the prosecution to come up with this application was unfair to the defendants who have been in detention now for about four years.
The judge, Justice Tsoho, in adjourning the matter said the prosecution should avail all the necessary documents to the defendants’ counsel before the next adjourned date.
The court adjourned the matter till June 6 for continuation of trial.

Author: News Editor

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