SSS Bars Journalists From Covering Boko Haram Trial

Boko_Haram_leader__Abubakar_Shekau_916127537_288923525Journalists were shocked yesterday when officials of the Department of State Security Services (DSS) barred them from covering proceedings at the Federal High Court, Lagos when 17 alleged of the dreaded Boko Haram sect were brought to court for arraignment.
Reports said the suspects were charged with eight counts of belonging to the proscribed organisation and for being in possession of explosives and dangerous weapons.
Earlier the suspects were brought before Justice Musa Kurya by a combined team heavily armed riot policemen and DSS officials.But as proceedings were about to begin, an official of SSS ordered everyone who was not a lawyer to leave the courtroom.
Alhough court reporters identified themselves and explained that they have a duty to report court proceedings but the security agent said the press had barred from covering the case.
According to him, there is a directive from the presidency not to allow journalists cover the proceedings anymore.
The journalists complied and stood outside the courtroom, yet, another armed SSS official ordered them to leave and not stay anywhere around the corridor.
He threatened: “I give you five minutes to leave this place, or you will be handcuffed.”
The combat ready security men who appears over-zealous had earlier, a seized the mobile phone of a lawyer who they caught taking photographs of the accused persons with his mobile phone as they were marched into the courtroom.
Mrs E. I. Alakija of the Directorate of Prosecution (DPP) in the Lagos State Ministry of Justice refused to give details of what transpired inside the court when the case ended and journalists approached her.
She directed the journalists to ask the court officials for a copy of the charge, saying she had none to spare.
She added that she had only one copy, but did not release it to be photocopied when asked.
But findings indicated that arraignment could not go on because the first to fifth accused persons had no legal representation.
Two lawyers were said to have represented the rest.It was learnt that the case has further adjourned to 27 for arraignment.
From the charge numbered FHC/L/299/13, the accused persons include: Ali Modu, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Ali, Ibrahim Bukar, Mohammed A. Mohammed, Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala, Kadri Mohammed, Mustapha Hassan, Abba Duguni, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya, Musa Bala, Bala Daura, Faruk Haruna, Abdulaziz Zuladaini.
The charge stated that the suspects were arrested at three locations on March 21, namely Plot 5, Road 69, Lekki Phase 1 Housing Estate; 24 Oyegbemi Street, Ijora Oloye, Apapa and at an unnumbered bungalow on Oyegbemi Street, behind Celestial Church, Ijora Oloye.
The government said they conspired among themselves “to commit felony, to with: acts of terrorism” by having in their possession explosive substances, three packets of explosive pipes and 15 detonators.
They were also allegedly in possession of 11 AK-47 riffle magazines loaded with 30 rounds of live ammunition each; 200 hundred rounds of 7.62 mm live ammunition, one AK-47 rifle, two AK-47 rifle magazines with three rounds of live ammunition each, two cases containing explosives and one water container of explosives.
Also recovered from the suspects, the charge said, were one bag containing canisters, one HP laptop, five Nokia handsets and one red Volkswagen Golf car with registration number Lagos: SMK 427 AZ, allegedly meant to transport the explosives.
The alleged offence is contrary to Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2013 and punishable under Section 17 (b) of the same Act.
In another count, it was stated that Ibrahim Bukar and Kadri Mohammed, on the same day “knowingly entered into an arrangement as a result of which money is to be made available for the purpose of terrorism for a proscribed organisation to wit: Boko Haram sect.”
The government said the alleged offence is contrary to Section 13 (2) of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act 2013 and punishable under same Act.
According to the fifth count, the accused persons were arrested by a team of security agents for being of a proscribed organisation, the Boko Haram sect.
The alleged offence is said to be contrary to Section 2 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Proscription Order) Notice 2013 and punishable under the same 2 (3) (1) read in conjunction with Section 33 (1) (b) of the Act as amended.
The sixth count said they had in their possession prohibited firearms a licence contrary to Section 516 of the Criminal Code, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section.

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