The State Security Service (SSS) yesterday was unable to arraign alleged Boko Haram member, Kabiru Sokoto before the Federal High Court, Abuja as there was no lawyer to represent him while the prosecuting SSS did not attach the proof of evidence to the amended charges against Sokoto.
The court also discovered that the accused did not understand English very well and would need an interpreter.
Sokoto is accused of withholding information of the plan to bomb St.Theresa’s Catholic church, Madalla, Niger state and failure to disclose it to law enforcement officers as soon as practicable, an offence contrary to Section 7(1) and punishable under Section 33(1) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011.
He is also accused of supporting the act of terrorism by training 500 men and inciting them to commit a terrorist act, contrary to Section 4(1)(a) and punishable under Section 33(1)(b) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011.
He also allegedly facilitated the commission of terrorist act to wit: by planting and encouraging some boys (now at large) at Mabira Sokoto, in Sokoto State with the intention to bomb the police headquarters, Sokoto and some other government offices.
The alleged offence is contrary to Section 15(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under the same Act.
The SSS operatives have held Sokoto in their custody for over a year and when he was brought to court yesterday for the first time, the prosecuting counsel, Mrs. Chioma Onuegbu told the court that they have filed an amended charge just yesterday but without proof of evidence nor a written case summons.
She then prayed the court to allow the accused take his plea adding that all the other applications would be served on him before the next adjourned date.
Clad in a brown long dress and a bathroom slippers and brought to the court under a heavy security in a Peugeot 406 with registration number Abuja, BR 867 RSH, Sokoto told the court through an interpreter that he knew about the charge only when he got to the court and that he would need about two weeks to get his own lawyer who will represent him.
He also accused the SSS of denying him access to lawyers and members of his family.
The trial judge, Justice Ademola Adeniyi lambasted the SSS saying they ought to have attached both proof of evidence and case summons to the charges.
Consequently, the judge ordered that the prosecuting counsel should prepare trial indictment copies, proof of evidences, summary of case, copies of the amended charges, other relevant processes and serve same on the accused person, on or before the 12th of April.
The judge also granted Kabiru Sokoto’s request to have access to a lawyer of his choice, who could defend him.
Justice Adeniyi also ordered the prosecution to specify whether the state will tender more evidence and how long it will take to come if any.
The judge said since it was Kabiru’s fundamental right to have access to legal representation, the time was not ripe for the suspect to take his plea.
The case has been adjourned till the 19th of April and that the accused will be remanded in the custody of the SSS till then.