Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sitting at Apo division, Abuja, yesterday remanded 60 members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), otherwise called Shi’ites, in Correctional Centres in Abuja and Suleja, Niger State.
Justice Sulaiman Belgore gave the remand at the instance of the prosecution counsel, Simon Lough, after the single bail application filed by the defence counsel, Bala Dakum, was withdrawn and struck out by the court.
The 60 suspects were arrested during the July 22 bloody 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 police on charges bordering on homicide, disturbance of public peace and destruction of government property. The members of the Ibraheem EL-Zakzaky religious sect, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them by the police.
On resumption of the case yesterday, counsel for the defendants, Bala Dakum, informed the court that he filed a bail application on behalf of the Shi’ite members.
When the court drew his attention to filing only one bail application for the 60 defendants, which was brought by way of summon, Dakum said he would withdraw it, which he subsequently did in order to file separate applications for the defendants.
The application was subsequently struck out by the judge, having been withdrawn by the defence counsel with no objection from the prosecution.
Consequent upon this, the counsel for the prosecution, Lough, requested that the defendants should be remanded in Kuje and Suleja prisons.
Lough, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), asked that 54 male defendants should be remanded at Kuje, while the remaining six female defendants be sent to Suleja on remand.
He also applied that trial of the defendants be held where they are remanded for convenience, adding that the trial should be given an accelerated hearing considering their number.
Ruling on the applications, Justice Belgore held that having not been opposed by the counsel for the defendants, the court was minded to remand the defendants in prison.
He then ordered that “the defendants be remanded at correctional facility. They are to be remanded at Kuje and Suleja correctional yards. Trial to be held in Kuje correctional yard.”
The judge adjourned till February 5, 2020 for commencement of trial.