The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has fixed February 4 to hear a fresh suit lodged against the Federal Government by the convicted kingpin of the Boko Haram sect, Kabiru Umar. a.k.a. Kabiru Sokoto.
The High Court had on December 20, 2013, convicted and sentenced Sokoto to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of masterminding the Christmas day bomb blast that killed about 44 persons and wounded 75 others at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church at Madalla, Niger State, in 2011.
In his judgment, trial Justice Adeniyi Ademola said he was satisfied that the federal government successfully established the culpability of the convict beyond every reasonable doubt, noting that ‘Sokoto’ had in two separate confessional statements, admitted that he had prior knowledge of the attack.
The court noted that the accused person, throughout the trial, never showed any remorse for his actions, describing him as “a pathological liar with no regards for the truth.”
Besides, the court observed that ‘Sokoto’ had in a statement he voluntarily made on January 14, 2012, shortly after he was apprehended, confessed that he was a key member of the Boko Haram sect.
Justice Adeniyi who read a portion of the said statement where the accused person averred: “Here in Abaji, nobody knows that I am a Boko Haram member, much so, I have about 500 children that I teach Quran”, added that ‘Sokoto’, in page four of his statement, confessed that under his supervision, “the Madalla church bombing was carried out by one Bashir Mohammed, Muhktar Kafanchan and others who I cannot remember their names now.”
The court further noted that one of the eight Boko Haram members the accused gave AK-47 Rifles and directed to bomb police stations and other government agencies in Sokoto state, after he was caught by a team of policemen during a shootout, exposed the operations of the sect and manipulated
‘Kabiru Sokoto’ as the person in charge of the coordination of bomb attacks.
Meantime, Sokoto who earlier instituted N300 million suit against the government over alleged torture, yesterday, re-approached the high court, accusing the federal government of frustrating his efforts to get his conviction upturned at the Court of Appeal.
In a fresh motion on notice he filed through his lawyer, Mr. Sheriff Okoh, Sokoto further alleged that the Comptroller of Prisons and his men have made it impossible for him to have access to his lawyer, to enable him perfect his appeal process.
The motion which has the Comptroller General of Prisons, CGP, and Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, as respondents, is seeking an order from the court, compelling the respondents to allow Sokoto who is currently detained at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos, to have access to his legal team.
The applicant is equally seeking a declaration that the federal government, by denying him access to his lawyers, have thus violated his right to fair hearing, right to counsel and access to justice.
In a supporting affidavit deposed to by Okoh, it was alleged that several applications to the CGP by Sokoto’s lawyer for opportunity to see him, were turned down.
“We have made several personal contacts with the 1st defendant (CGP), his men: S. N. Nwanchukwu (PSO), E. O. Ogundele (DCG) among others, at the Nigeria Prisons headquarters, Abuja in a bid to persuade them to permit us to see the applicant, but they kept making us indulge in fruitless returns for approvals from the 2nd respondent (AGF) that has not come for over two years.
“Wherefore, we verily believe that their actions are aimed at ensuring that the applicant’s appeal of his conviction and sentence continues to be frustrated in perpetuity.”
“The applicant’s appeal before the Court of Appeal is being delayed as a result of the conduct of the 1st respondent and men under his command and supervision,” Okoh averred.
When the matter was called up yesterday, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba who was assigned the case-file, observed that there was no evidence before the court to show that the respondents were duly served with the process.
Consequently, Justice Dimgba directed Sokoto’s lawyer to go and serve the respondents and return to court on the next adjourned date.
It will be recalled that ‘Sokoto’ was on May 20, 2013, docked before the court on an amended 2-count terrorism charge.
Aside allegation that he trained over 500 men on how to manufacture and detonate Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, the federal government, alleged that he had prior knowledge that the sect planned to bomb the church on Christmas day but failed to disclose it to law enforcement officer as soon as reasonably practicable.
He was said to have between 2007 and 2012, at Mabira Sokoto, Sokoto state, facilitated the commission of terrorist act including planting bombs at the Police headquarters and some government organizations in the state. He was charged under section 15(2) of the EFCC Act, 2011, and section 17 of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011.
FG told the court that the accused person instituted his terrorist training camp at Abaji, a suburb town in Abuja.
Though he was previously arrested by the Police in Abuja on January 14, 2012, Sokoto was declared missing two days later.
His mysterious escape from custody had culminated to the sack of the erstwhile Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim and former Commission of Police in-charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Zakari Biu who was out rightly dismissed from the Force. However, he was subsequently re-arrested on February 10, 2012.