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COVERLEGALNEWS

Absence of Defence Counsel Halts Kabiru Sokoto’s Trial

The alleged instigator of the 2011 tragic Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madala, Niger State, Mr. Kabiru Umar, also known as Kabiru Sokoto, was Wednesday brought before a Federal High in Abuja for arraignment on terrorism charges.

Sokoto was charged with a three-count charge, including facilitating the commission of a terrorist act by planting and encouraging his boys, who are said to be at large, at Mabira Sokoto in Sokoto State, with the intention to bomb the police headquarters in the state between 2007 and 2012.

The arraignment however was stalled because the suspected terrorist had no legal representation. This is just as Senator Ali Ndume, who is facing terrorism related charges, has applied to the Court of Appeal to stop his trial before a Federal High Court. Sokoto, who claimed not to understand the English language, spoke through a court interpreter, stating he was not aware that he was being brought to court.

He also informed the court that he had not been served with the charges brought against him by the State Security Service (SSS). He requested for a period of two weeks to enable him secure the services of a lawyer to represent him at the trial.

The court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Ademola noted that the nature of the case, being a terrorism related one, ought to be handled with urgency. Thus, he expressed displeasure over the security agency’s failure to serve the suspect with the charges alongside the proof of evidence to enable him prepare his defence.

Justice Ademola also declined an application made by the SSS’ lawyer, Ms. Chioma Onuegwu, wherein she pleaded with the court to allow Kabiru enter his plea to signify the commencement of his trial. The court thereafter adjourned proceedings until April 19 and ordered that the suspected terrorist be remanded in the custody of the SSS. The court also instructed the security agency to allow the suspect access to his lawyers to enable him prepare his defence and serve him every material document relating to the trial.

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