Monday, April 21, 2014

Government fails to ‘diligently’ prosecute alleged gunrunner linked to VP Sambo

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The Nigerian Army and the State Security Service apparently lost the zeal to prosecute the accused persons.

A top member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Nuhu Marafa, who was arrested in January 2012 for allegedly sponsoring terrorism and gun-running, was on Monday discharged and acquitted by a Magistrate Court judge in Kaduna.

The judge, Nasiru Lere, said the case against Mr. Marafa, who was arrested with his son, Musa Marafa, lacked “diligent prosecution”.

The Nigerian Army had raided Mr. Marafa’s residence at Tirkania Quarters in Kaduna on January 13, and arrested him in connection with terrorism.

Parading him before press men in January, an Assistant Director of Public Relations of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Abubakar Edun, stated that Mr. Marafa and his son were arrested for allegations of “gun-running and suspected connection with and support for a terrorist group.”

Mr. Edun, a Lieutenant Colonel, gave a list of items purportedly found at the residence of Mr. Marafa. They include – 9 pieces of 9 mm ammunition, 5 pieces of 6mm ammunition, 1 piece of 7.62 special ammunition, and 11 pieces of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) quality 7.62 ammunition.

Other items recovered were, 17 pieces of Barrel gun cartridges, one pump action gun, two double edged special axes and three matches.

Mr. Edun also said officers found two dog tags belonging to the Nigerian Army with registration numbers D2004/1/55/1899 S Adamu and US Army 84637857 Rambo RH, as well as Nigerian Army camouflage trousers.

In spite of these items allegedly found in Mr. Marafa’s house, relevant authorities seemed to have lost the zeal to prosecute the accused.

After nine adjournments, the prosecutors failed to heed to three court orders to produce the case diary.

The judge therefore discharged and acquitted the accused persons for lack of interest and diligent prosecution.

To show the lack of interest in Nigerian leaders to prosecute the accused, the prosecution team was not in court on Monday when the judge delivered ruling on the matter. They had also missed previous court hearings.

The counsel to the Nigerian Army, and that of the State Security Service (SSS) were also absent in court during the judgment.

Counsel to the accused persons, Muhammad Katung, in an interview after the judgment, informed newsmen that there were series of adjournment at the instance of the defense counsel. He said on two occasions, the prosecutors were asked to produce the case diary and a legal advice as to whether his clients were found guilty after their investigation or not.

“Infact the baffling aspect of it was that the prosecuting counsel was absent and there was no reason given for his absence,” Mr. Katung said.

Mr. Katung said he was compelled to ask the court to discharge his clients after “nine adjournments from February 2012 to date and three specific orders by the court asking the prosecution to produce the case diary and advice”.

Reacting to the judgment, Mr. Marafa said he will not press charges to seek for redress.

“As a peace loving people of Kaduna and indeed Nigeria, we thank God and we leave everything for God to judge against those who were behind our arrest and incarceration,” he said.

Mr. Marafa is closely associated with Vice President, Namadi Sambo. He was the leader of a group known as “Namadi Ambassadors” and campaigned vigorously for Mr. Sambo’s gubernatorial election in 2007.

He was also a key member of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Association, NUPENG, Kaduna state branch, where he was the chairman of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers Association.

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