by Ayobami Olopade
Justice Gladys Olotu of an Abuja Federal High Court has condemned the inability of the government to diligently prosecute the four suspected Boko Haram members who masterminded the bombing of the United Nations Building in Abuja in 2011.
Salisu Mohammed, Inusa Mukaliu, Dan’azumi Haruna and Abdulsalami Adamu were arrested in Kano shortly after the bombing incident that occurred on August 20, 2011 and arraigned on a four-count charge bordering on terrorism.
The prosecution, which started in May, 2013, suffered series of delays due to numerous requests, especially by the prosecution counsel, Mrs. O.E. Ohakwe, an official of the Federal ministry of Justice despite the fact that the prosecution applied for an accelerated trial which the court granted.
Justice Olotu expressed disappointment that the prosecution has only been able to present one witness, Mr Ibrahim Agu(PW1) since the prosecution started months ago, which displays lack of diligence.
The judge reeled out various instances in which the prosecution stalled the trial, beginning with the prosecutor’s inability to produce all the needed material evidence to prosecute the case on August 11.
“Though the prosecuting counsel was able to bring one witness, Mr. Ibrahim Agu(PW1), however, she told the court that the other witness, CSP Augustine Pam, being expected would come from Jos. After a series of attempts to prosecute the four suspects had failed, the court had to adjourn the matter to October 10 and 11, 2013 for the prosecuting counsel to call up the second witness, but to no avail.”
“At the last adjourned date of November 20, the prosecuting counsel told the court that the witness was seriously ill and could not climb the staircase of the Federal High Court. As a result of that, the Court granted an adjournment for the witness to appear in court. Today, the prosecutor came to court and could not produce the witness in spite of the spite patience of the court to grant an adjournment, even when there was no substantial evidence to show that the witness was ill.”
“He was ill, but travelled all the way from Jos to Abuja and could not climb the staircase on November 20. The matter was adjourned to today. He failed to appear in court, but was able to travel back to Jos.”
The judge then declared, “The court cannot continue to take these prosecution any longer. I, therefore, make an order that the prosecution should close her case against the suspects”.
Following the order, Mrs. Ohakwe closed the prosecution’s case. Meanwhile, counsel for the accused, Ken Obiduruzo, applied for an extension of time to tender his application for a no-case submission on behalf of the accused persons, which Justice Olotu responded to by granting an adjournment till January 22, 2014 for adoption of the written submissions of the parties in relation to the no-case submission of the defence.