Court threatens to free Boko Haram suspects
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has threatened to strike out the charges filed against nine suspected members of the fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, by the police.
At the resumed hearing of the suit on Thursday, the prosecution counsel, Bernard Nnamdi applied for an adjournment on account of their in-ability to produce the witnesses in court.
The police authorities have failed to present any witness since the suspects were arraigned 13 months ago.
Counsels representing the accused person opposed the application for adjournment and asked the court to discharge the accused persons for lack of diligent prosecution.
They also held that Section 280 of the Criminal Procedure Act empowers the court to discharge the accused persons, especially where proof of evidence does not link the accused persons to the alleged offence.
Justice Kafarati who was visibly angry, adjourned the matter till September 18, 2012 for further hearing, warning that the matter will be struck out if the prosecution failed to bring their witness to court on the next adjourned date.
The judge, who granted the police a last adjournment for Sept. 18, said that the prosecution counsel had not showed diligence in prosecuting the case.
“I should have discharged the accused persons today but I am compelled by justice to restrain such action and allow the prosecution one last chance” the Judge said.
Lamenting that the case has being adjourned four times, Justice Kafarti stated that “the court had adjourned this matter four times at the instance of the prosecutor, who had always promised to bring his witnesses to court but failed each time.”
“I shall, therefore, discharge the accused persons should the prosecution fail to bring the witnesses to court on the next adjourned date.”
The judge also ordered the police to serve the accused persons with the proof of evidence.“It is against the court procedure not to do that a year after the accused persons were arraigned,’’ Kafarati said.
Nine out of 21 persons accused of belonging to the Boko Haram sect have been standing trial while the remaining 15 are at large.
The nine suspects standing trial are alleged to have attacked Gwange Police Station in Maiduguri and engaged the policemen in a gun battle.
They are also accused of attacking a bank in the state and carting away a substantial amount of money.