by Stanley Azuakola
The Abuja court hearing the terrorism case against the suspected mastermind of the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic church in Madala, Niger state, central Nigeria, Kabiru Umar, also known as Kabiru Sokoto, has tentatively fixed November 7th for delivery of judgement. This followed the adoption of the defence by counsel to Sokoto, Sheriff Okoh who made a last ditch effort to save his life.
Okoh argued that all the documents which the SSS tendered at the court as confessional statements from Sokoto were suspect because they were all authored by one man, the Investigation Police Officer who investigated the matter.
Sokoto who was arrested on 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. He was however later apprehended. The defence wondered why that vital information of Sokoto’s escape was not mentioned by the prosecution witness.
“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.”
According to Okoh, the accused had no 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.
He also argued that even though Sokoto was a member of Boko Haram, at the time of the Madala bombing, that was not illegal. He contended that prior to the legal proscription of Boko Haram on 14th June, 2013, membership of the sect was not a crime since Nigeria is a secular state where citizens are at liberty to belong to any organization they desire.
However the prosecution counsel Ms. Chioma Onuegwu, argued that the prosecution has discharged its duty by proving beyond reasonable doubts that Kabiru Sokoto was guilty, based on his confessional statement and other evidence placed before the court .
Sokoto was arraigned on a three count charge by the SSS for allegedly facilitating 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 and Financial Crimes Commission Act, 2004. He was also alleged to have been in possession of information about the bombing of St. 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.