Bail application for Boko Haram suspects, Court reserves ruling

By The Citizen

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday reserved ruling till Feb. 28 on the bail application filed by counsel to three Boko Haram suspects.

The suspects are: Mohammed Yunus, a Kogi University lecturer; Salami Abdullahi, a billionaire oil merchant and Musa Umar, who were all arrested in October, 2013 and have been in custody.

Kolawole fixed the date after listening to the arguments for their bail by their respective counsel and the Chief State Counsel.

They are: Mr Hassan Liman, SAN, Mr James Ocholi, SAN, and Mr Abdul Mohammed, counsel for first, second and third accused, while Mrs Jones Nebo appeared for the state prosecution.

Justice Kolawole ordered the accused to be remanded in Kuje Prisons in the FCT Prisons Command and adjourned the case to Feb. 28 for ruling on the bail application.

“Ruling in the respective applications for bail for the three accused persons is hereby reserved for Feb. 28.

“They are, therefore, all ordered to be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Prisons Service, FCT Command, Kuje,'' the judge ordered.

Liman had in his argument told the court that by the provisions of Section 118 (1) of the 2013 Terrorism Act, his client's bail was at the discretion of the judge who should exercise it liberally.

He said that the prosecution submitted that Section 1 (1) of the Terrorism Prevention Act makes the charge against his client punishable by death, but did not shut the judge's discretion to admit him to bail.

Liman said his client was a responsible family man who was gainfully employed as a university lecturer and would not jump bail or tamper with investigation in the course of the trial.

Arguing in the same vain, Ocholi said that his client was a wealthy and responsible community leader who would not jump bail if admitted to bail.

He said his client was entitled to the right of being treated first as innocent before the court until proven otherwise, especially in the absence of any prima facie evidence linking him with the crime.

Ocholi also tendered a medical report indicating that his client had chronic hypertension which required regular medication and urged the judge to admit him to bail.

Mohammed in his argument, said he was aligning with the submissions of the first and second counsel, particularly on the judge's discretion to admit the third accused to bail.

Mrs Jones Nebo, Chief State Counsel, however, told the court that the charges against the accused were so grave that they threatened national security.

She said the offences contravened the provisions of the 2013 Terrorism Prevention Act and urged the court to convict the accused accordingly.

Yunus and five others were arrested in October, 2013 on allegation of having links with Boko Haram.

When they were arraigned on Feb. 3, they all pleaded not guilty to all the 8-count charge bordering on terrorism.