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FG docks Kabiru Sokoto on 3-count terrorism charge

Kabiru Sokoto, the suspected mastermind of the Christmas Day 2011 bombing which killed about 44 persons and wounded 75 others at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State, was yesterday docked at a Federal High Court, Abuja. Sokoto, whose real name is Kabiru Abubakar Dikko, escaped recently from police custody after his initial arrest on January 14, 2012.
 He was taken into custody after he was arrested, but escaped from the police team while being led to his Abuja home for a search. The development led to the sack of former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim and Mallam Zakari Biu, a. former Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). However, Sokoto, who was also accused of training over 500 men on how to manufacture and detonate Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), was eventually re-arrested on February 10, 2012, and has since remained in the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS).

He was brought to court yesterday amid tight security , but could not enter his plea to the three-court amended charge dated March 19, 2013, owing to his inability to secure a lawyer. The Federal Government filed a three-count amended terrorism charge against the alleged Boko Haram kingpin, a year and three months after he was arrested by the Police. Clad in white ‘kaftan’, the lanky leader of the Islamist sect told the court that he does not understand English as he entered the dock.

Justice Ademola Adeniyi had to stand-down the case to enable the court produce an interpreter. When the matter resumed about 10 minutes later, Sokoto, standing six feet tall in the wooden dock, insisted on engaging a defence lawyer, alleging that since the day he was arrested, the security agency barred him from speaking to any lawyer. Besides, the accused told the trial judge that it was only yesterday morning that he was informed that he was going to court, even as he pleaded with the court to give him two weeks to perfect his defence.

At that juncture, the prosecuting counsel, Mrs Chioma Onuegbu, served a copy of the charge to the accused right inside the dock. Meanwhile, before adjourning till April 19 to take Sokoto’s plea, Justice Adeniyi expressed his displeasure with the Federal Government, noting that even though the initial charge against Sokoto was filed since March 6, 2012, yet, the prosecution only filed its amended charge yesterday.

“The Chief Judge has always warned us to ensure that sensitive terrorism cases like this is always treated with dispatch, and we, as judges, always do everything within our powers to fast-track such matters. However, it is most unfortunate that you are just filing this amended charge today,” the judge fumed. He ordered the Federal Government to serve the statement of evidence and all other evidence on the accused person before the arraignment date, just as he ordered the prosecution to prepare “trial indictment and evidence”, before that day, saying same should be accordingly served on the accused.

The judge also directed that the prosecution must prepare a written case summons and serve on Sokoto before April 12, as well as specify whether the government has the intention of adducing additional evidence against him in the course of the trial. He ordered that the accused be remanded in the DSS custody.
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