Abuja — The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, remanded the alleged mastermind of the Christmas day bomb explosion that killed about 44 persons and wounded 75 other worshippers at St. Theresa's Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, in 2011, Kabiru Umar, a.k.a Kabiru Sokoto, in prison custody.
Sokoto was remanded shortly after he pleaded not guilty to an amended three-count criminal charge preferred against him by the Federal Government, which attracts life imprisonment on conviction. His counsel, Mr Adamu Ibrahim, made an oral application for his bail
The alleged kingpin of the Boko Haram Islamic sect was initially docked before the high court on May 20, but he could not take his plea owing to his inability to secure the services of a lawyer.
Aside allegation that the accused person trained over 500 men on how to manufacture and detonate Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, the Federal Government, maintained that he had prior knowledge of the sect's plan to bomb the said St Theresa's Catholic Church on the fateful day, but failed to disclose the information to any law enforcement officer as soon as reasonably practicable.
The prosecution said that the accused person was alleged to have between 2007 and 2012, at Mabira Sokoto, Sokoto State, facilitated the commission of terrorist acts, including planting bombs at the Police headquarters and some government organizations in the state.
The Federal Government told the court that the accused person set up his terrorist training camp at Abaji, a suburb of Abuja. Meantime, Sokoto who was previously arrested by the Police in Abuja on January 14, 2012 and declared missing from custody two days later, leading to the retirement of the former Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim and outright dismissal of then Commissioner of Police in-charge of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Zakari Biu, however begged the court to release him on bail pending the determination of the charge against him.
Sokoto had been in custody since February 10, 2012 when he was re-arrested by a combined team of officers from the Department of State Service, DSS, and soldiers.
Turning down his bail request, the presiding judge, Justice Adetokunbo Ademola ordered him to file a formal application, and directed all the parties to ensure that they filed and exchanged briefs before April 26.
Ademola, however, granted the accused person's plea to be transferred from DSS custody to the prison. Hearing on the case was adjourned to May 2 and 9.
Specifically, the amended three -count charge against him read: "That you Kabiru Umar (alias Kabiru Sokoto ) member of an illegal terrorist organization known and called Boko Haram, between 2007 and 2012 at Mabira Sokoto, Sokoto state did facilitate the commission of terrorist act to wit: by planting and encouraging your boys (now at large) at Mabira Sokoto, in Sokoto State with the intention to bomb the police headquarters Sokoto and some of the government organizations in the state and thereby committed an offence contrary to section15(2) of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under the same Act.
*That you Kabiru Umar (Alias Kabiru Sokoto ) on or about December 25, 2011 at St Theresa's Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, had information about the bombing of Madalla Catholic Church and failed to disclose it to a law enforcement officer as soon as reasonably practicable, and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 7(1) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011, and punishable under section 33(1) of the same Act.
"That you Kabiru Umar (Alias Kabiru Sokoto ) about July 2011 at Abaji, did support the act of terrorism by training about 500 men and inciting them to commit a terrorist act, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4(1) (a) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011, and punishable under section 33(1) (b) of the same Act."