Eight suspects believed to have planted the bombs that killed 16 people at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Suleja, Niger State, on April 8, have been arraigned by the State Security Service (SSS) before an Abuja Chief Magistrate.
The accused persons namely Shuaib Abubarkar, Muhammed Dalhatu, Salisu Ahmed, Ahmed Hasaan, Umar Baba Gana, Muhhamed Alli, Musa Adamu and Umar Ibrahim were brought before the court yesterday at about 1:40pm by heavily armed SSS operatives. They were said to have conspired to do an illegal act to wit, planting and detonating explosives at different places, causing grievous bodily harm to tens of people and killing about 22 others at different places. Apart from the 16 people killed at INEC office in Suleja, the suspects were also said to have been responsible for the killing of three people at All Christian Fellowship Church in Suleja and another bomb that killed three people in Bawri.
All the suspects but one pleaded not guilty to the charges. The 4th accused person, Ahmed Hassan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transact illegal arms and also confirmed allegiance to the Boko-Haram sect with the 3rd accused person Salisu Ahmed since 2008. He narrated how one Barsha, said to be at large, enjoined them to avenge the death of late Boko-Haram leader, Muhammed Yussuf, and asked them to procure cortex cable from a mining site in Nassarawa state. (The other seven suspects said they did not know anything about the charges read to them.)
He also told the court that Barsha taught them how to use AK47. According to SSS sources, Hassan’s mother is from the southeast while his father is from Niger Republic. All the suspects are very young and are aged 20 to 35. The charges were first read out in English and latter translated to Hausa by the court’s registrar. No lawyer represented the accused persons.
When Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewunmi informed them of their right to be represented by lawyers, they all said that they had no lawyers.
Apparently not ready for the trial, the prosecutor, Mr. C.I. Osagie asked that the case be adjourned till October 4, 2011. He said that though investigations had been concluded, new arrests had been, thus necessitating the adjournment.