10 July 2013

Nigeria: Four Boko Haram Members Jailed for Life

Four men have been given life jail sentences following their conviction on terrorism charges yesterday for participating in bomb attacks in Suleja, Niger State, and Dakna village of Abuja in 2011.

Shuaibu Abubakar, Salisu Ahmed, Umar Babagana and Mohammed Ali were convicted by the Federal High Court in Abuja, the first Boko Haram conviction since a purported sect spokesman Ali Konduga was sentenced in December 2011 to a three-year prison term.

The court found the four men, who were identified as members of the Boko Haram sect, guilty of bombings which claimed the lives of several persons at a political rally and at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Suleja and Dakna.

Justice Bilkisu Aliyu said they were also found guilty of other offenses ranging from illegal training in arms, transportation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as well as participating in terrorist activities.

During trial, the court was told that Abubakar and Ahmed had at different times purchased materials (cortex and electronic detonators) for making IED's from Azara in Nasarawa State.

The court also heard that Babagana and Ali accompanied Abubakar while he was transporting the explosives to Kano for terrorist activities before being apprehended by the Army in Kachia, Kaduna State.

Abubakar, who denied the materials were meant for terrorist activities, had told the court he meant to use them for mining activities though he was yet to secure the land.

But Justice Bilkisu Aliyu held yesterday that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Abubakar was found in possession of the IED's and was transporting them for terrorist acts.

Babagana and Ali had also denied knowledge of what Abubakar was transporting but the court said evidence given established that there was intelligence report that terrorists were moving explosives on the night they were arrested.

More so, the court said Ali fleeing the scene after being stopped by the Army suggested he knew what was in the car.

Earlier, counsel to the accused persons, Kevin Okoro and Nuraini Sulayman, prayed to the court to temper justice with mercy, but prosecuting counsel Thompson Olatigbe urged the court to give them a life sentence.

In her judgment, Justice Bilkisu Aliyu said, "These convicts used explosive devices for blasting rocks and mining on their fellow human beings who have done nothing to them. Human life is sacred; there is no one life that is more sacred than the other. These convicts have shown the utmost disregard for human lives and this is in the most cruel manner. And they deserve to be removed from the public. Convicts 1-4 are sentenced to life imprisonment."

The court also sentenced Umar Ibrahim to 10 years in prison for aiding terrorist activities.

Ibrahim, a brother to Bashir Madalla, one of the leaders of the sect who trained some of the convicts in the use of arms aimed at avenging the death of their members in Yobe and Borno states, ran errands for his brother.

In the judgment, Justice Aliyu said, "The sixth convict knew the activities of his brother. He told this court that his brother tried to recruit him into the sect and he refused. He could have refused being used as an errand boy. Because he was used, I'm not giving him life, he is only sentenced to ten years."

The court, however, discharged and acquitted the fifth accused person, Musa Adamu. Justice Aliyu said no evidence was brought before the court linking him to the charges. Later last night, counsel to the convicts told Daily Trust they will appeal the judgement.

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