A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday sentenced three Boko Haram members to 75 years jail with hard labour.
The judgement was delivered on Tuesday by Justice Ibrahim Buba in camera.
Justice Buba had earlier granted an application that the trial should be conducted in secret following an application to that effect and because of the need to protect the witnesses in the case.
Specifically, the convicts were sentenced to 25 years each.
Initially, 17 suspects were charged to court but they were later reduced to four following the withdrawal of the case against some of the suspects, leaving only four.
The 17 suspects initially charged were arraigned before Justice Buba on 18 counts bordering on conspiracy to commit terrorism, illegal possession of firearms, and being members of a proscribed organisation.
They were Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman, Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala and Kadiri Mohammed.
Others are Mustapha Daura, Abba Duguri, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya and Musa Audu and Mati Daura, Farouk Haruna, Abdullahi Azeez, Ibrahim Bukar and Zula Diani.
But the case was discontinued against all the accused except the first four that went through trial – Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman and Bala Haruna.
Out of the four, Haruna was discharged by Justice Buba on the ground that the government failed to prove the allegations of terrorism funding against him.
Haruna, according to the case of the government, was said to have agreed to provide funds to facilitate the escape of the first convict, Ali Mohammed, from detention.
However, Justice Buba sentenced the first three accused persons – Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi and Ibrahim Usman – to 25 years imprisonment each for participating in acts of terrorism.
In the charge, the prosecution alleged that the accused persons committed the offences on March 21, at Plot 5, Road 69, Lekki Phase I Housing Estate, and No. 24, Oyegbeni St., Ijora-Oloye, Apapa-Iganmu, Lagos.
They were alleged to have been caught in possession of three packets of explosive construction pipes, 15 detonators, and 11 AK47 rifles with 30 rounds of live ammunitions.
The other items allegedly found in the possession of the accused include 200 rounds of 7.6 millimetres live ammunition, two suitcases containing explosives, and a water container filled with explosives.
According to the prosecution, the offences contravened provisions of Sections 13(2) and 17(b) of the Terrorism Act 2013.
It also contravenes Sections 1, 8, 27 (1) (a) and (b) of the Firearms (special provisions) Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation, 2004, and punishable under Section 8 of the same act.
The details of the judgement were given to journalists by a source who was in court.
The source had pleaded anonymity.
In an attempt to cover the judgement, journalists had approached the Deputy Chief Registrar and Administrative Head of the court in Lagos division, Bello Okandeji, who promptly intervened by leading reporters to the court.
However, on getting to the court, Okandeji and journalists were prevented from gaining access by battle-ready members of Joint Task Force (JTF).
The security officers had specifically told Okandeji that they were under the instruction not to allow anybody into the courtroom.
Initially, Justice Buba had earlier announced that the judgement would be given at 12pm and had earlier sought the views of the lawyers if it was within the law to give the judgement in the open court before the public.
The representative of the prosecution, who was in court, Idowu Alakija, however, responded by saying that since the trial was conducted in camera for security reasons, judgement should also be given in the same manner.
Justice Buba, however, opted to know what the law stipulates on giving judgement in camera and how his colleagues in Abuja handle the cases before them.
He then adjourned to conduct a short research.
Upon sitting again, Justice Buba again asked the parties to address him on the legality of giving judgement in Camera.
The Attorney General of Lagos State and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye, who had been in court, then responded by saying that if the trial was conducted in secret, the judgement should also be delivered in secret as the judgement was also an inherent part of the proceeding.
The defence team also supported Ipaye’s position, a development which made Justice Buba to order everyone except the parties and the security operatives out of the courtroom to allow him give his judgement.