Nigeria: Court Remands 60 Shiite Members in Correctional Centres

10 December 2019

A Federal Capital Territory High Court in Apo, on Tuesday, ordered the remand of 60 members of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria(IMN) in the correctional centres in Kuje, Abuja and Suleja in Niger State.

The judge, Sulaiman Belgore, gave the order while ruling in an application by the prosecution lawyer, Simon Lough, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.

The 60 IMN members were arrested during the July 22 protest at the Federal Secretariat area of Abuja, which led to the death of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar and Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member with Channels Television.

They were arraigned before the court on November 27 by the FCT Command of the Nigerian Police Force.

They were arraigned on charges of homicide, disturbances of public peace and destruction of government properties.

The defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against them by the police.

The Shiites are demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been detained by the government since December 2015.

Over 340 Shiites were reportedly killed by the army in December 2015 after the army accused the Islamic sect of blocking their path. No army officer has been arraigned.

At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday, the defendant's lawyer, Bala Dakum, informed the court that he filed an application for bail on behalf of the Shi'ite members.

But the court drew Mr Dakum's attention to filing only one bail application but rather asked him to file different applications for the 60 defendants.

Mr Dakum then told the court that he would withdraw it, which he subsequently did in order to file separate applications for the defendants.

Having been withdrawn and with no objection from the prosecution, the court struck out the application.

After this, the Police's lawyer requested that the defendants be remanded in Kuje and Suleja correctional facility.

Mr Lough asked the court that 54 male defendants be remanded at Kuje, while the remaining six defendants, who are females, be sent to Suleja on remand.

He also applied that defendant's trial be held where they are remanded for convenience. He added that the trial should be given an accelerated hearing considering their number.

Mr Dakum did not oppose the prosecution's oral applications for the remand of the defendants and trial being held at where they are being remanded.

In a ruling on the applications, Justice Belgore held that having not been opposed by the lawyer for the defendants, the court was minded to remand them in prison yards.

"The defendants be remanded at the correctional facility. They are to be remanded at Kuje and Suleja correctional yards. Trial to be held in Kuje correctional yard, " the judge ruled.

Mr Belgore adjourned the matter to February 5, 2020, for the commencement of trial and ordered that it would be on a daily basis.

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