The State Security Service, SSS, on April 19 2011, arraigned Kabiru Sokoto over the Christmas Day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla in Niger State.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday dismissed an application filed by Kabiru Sokoto, challenging its jurisdiction to try him for the bombing of a church in 2011.
The court held that the prosecution’s proof of evidence had established substantial evidence against the accused.
The judge, Adeniyi Ademola, said, “I have gone through the arguments of both counsel and it is the decision of the court to dismiss the motion.
“The court has jurisdiction to try the accused person just as the proof of evidence establishes prima facie against the accused person.
“The laws support the trial of such matters of treason, felony and terrorism in any division of the Federal High Court.
“The court is convinced at the submission of the prosecution as the accused person had lived in the jurisdiction of the court when the offences were committed.
“The court became more convinced when the attention of the court was drawn to the fact that the accused person was arrested in Abuja.
“The challenge on the territorial jurisdiction of the court is hereby dismissed.”
On the competence of the charge, the judge said, “the proof of evidence has substantially linked the applicant to the crimes.’’
Mr. Ademola urged the suspect to stand the trial to clear himself.
Arguing on the application, Adamu Ibrahim, the counsel to the accused person said that the court lacked the territorial jurisdiction to handle the case.
He explained that the offences for which his client was charged happened in Sokoto and Niger states respectively.
Mr. Ibrahim submitted that Sections 64, 65, and 67 of the Criminal Procedure Act compelled the court to hands off the trial.
He said: “my lord, those sections are more or less the compass that guides the jurisdiction of courts.
“The provisions have ensured that suspects are tried in divisions of courts where the crimes are committed.
“So, we humbly submit that the matter be transferred to either Sokoto or Niger states where the offences were allegedly committed.”
Countering the submission, the prosecutor, Chioma Nweogbu, said that the court had “perfect jurisdiction” to entertain the case.
She explained that the accused was arrested in Abuja after he had committed the crime in Sokoto and in Niger.
“Section 70 of the CPA confers the court the jurisdiction to handle such matters that relate to terrorism, felony and treason.
“My lord, I want to also say that the fear of the accused person escaping again from the custody and threat to halt smooth prosecution of the case are the other circumstantial reasons why the court should refuse the application.
“My lord, the accused person has escaped from the police custody before, it took the effort of the SSS to re-arrest him in Taraba,” she said.
The prosecutor, however, said that the proof of evidence had established enough case against the accused.
Ms. Nweogbu said that “the court must at this point discountenance the challenge against it.”
The State Security Service, SSS, on April 19 arraigned Kabiru Umar, alias Kabiru Sokoto, for the Christmas Day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla in Niger State in 2011.
No fewer than 40 persons were reported to have died in the attack.
Kabiru Sokoto is alleged to have had information about the bombing but failed to inform law enforcement agents.
The accused is further standing trial for allegedly being a member of a terror group, known as Boko Haram, between 2007 and 2012 at Mabira Sokoto in Sokoto State.
He was also allegedly found to have facilitated the execution of a terrorist act within the period.
The charge sheet read that the suspect committed an offence contrary to Section 4(1) (a) of the Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011 and punishable under Section 33(1) (b) of the same law.
The charge further said the suspect committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2004.
When the charge was read out, the accused pleaded not guilty.
The two count-charge attracts life sentence.
The application for a secret trial filed by the prosecution was granted as only journalists and lawyers who are parties in the matter are henceforth to be allowed during the trial.
Meanwhile, ruling on the bail application filed by the counsel to the defendant was adjourned to May 9.
Mr. Ibrahim had urged the court to admit the accused on bail, saying that he remained innocent till the allegations were proven.
However, the prosecutor opposed the application.
He said “any attempt at granting the accused person bail would make nonsense of the effort by the SSS in tackling the challenges of insecurity in the country.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...