The suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges.
For the second time in as many months, operatives of the Department of State Security Service, SSS, Wednesday, shut out journalists from the trial of alleged Boko Haram members at the Federal High Court, Lagos.
Seventeen suspected members of the outlawed Islamic sect were arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba, on a seven count of being members of the terrorist group and possession of prohibited explosives substances.
The trial had been stalled last month after five of the suspects lacked legal representation.
At the court’s last sitting, the SSS ordered reporters out of the court room, stating that a directive from the presidency had instructed that reporters be barred from covering the trial.
No reporter was permitted to stand around the perimeter of the court room while the proceedings lasted.
Like what transpired on October 25, journalists had to rely mostly on second hand accounts for their reports.
It was gathered that Justice Musa Kurya, who was heading the proceedings when the suspects were brought to the court last month had withdrawn from the case.
Justice Buba took over in his stead.
It was also gathered that the charges were read to all the suspects in English and translated to Hausa language.
They pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
While ordering the accused to remain in prison, the judge adjourned till December 3 for continuation of proceedings.
It was not clear whether the five defendants who did not have legal representation had gotten a lawyer before Wednesday’s arraignment.
The court papers, seen after the court’s sitting, did not list any lawyer representing them.
The court paper listed the accused persons as Ali Modu, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Ali, Ibrahim Bukar, Mohammed A. Mohammed, Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala and Kadri Mohammed.
Others are Mustapha Hassan, Abba Duguni, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya, Musa Bala, Bala Daura, Farouk Haruna and Abdula Zuladaini.
In addition to being accused of membership of the dreaded Boko Haram sect, the prosecution also claimed that three packets of explosive construction pipes; 15 detonators; and 11 AK-47 rifle magazines loaded with 30 rounds of live ammunition each were recovered from them.
They also recovered 200 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition; one AK-47 rifle magazine with three rounds of live ammunition each; two suit cases containing explosives substances, and one water container containing explosive substances.
Others were, one bag containing canisters; one HP laptop; five Nokia handsets; and one red Volkswagen Golf car with number, SMK 427 AZ LAGOS, which was allegedly “meant to transport the explosives and other items.”
Olabisi Ogungbesan, the Director of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, represented the state.
O.E Nwagbara represented the 7th accused person while D.K.N Dada represented the 6th, 8th – 17th accused persons.
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