Boko Haram: Absence of prosecution counsel puts trial of suspects on hold

The absence of prosecution counsel on Tuesday stalled the trial of seven Boko Haram suspects at the Federal High Court, Abuja. 

The defendants are: Mohammed Usman (a.k.a Khalid Al-Barnawi), Mohammed Bashir Saleh, Umar Mohammed Bello (a.k.a Abu Azzan), Mohammed Salisu (a.k.a Datti), Yakubu Nuhu (a.k.a Bello Maishayi), Usman Abubakar and a lady, Halima Haliru.

They are being tried on an 11-count charge, bordering on abduction and murder of their victims in February 2013. 

The defendants were alleged to have abducted seven foreigners from a construction site in Bauchi and took them to Sambisa Forest, in Borno, where they murdered them, Vanguard reports.

At the resumed trial, the prosecuting counsel, Miss Adeola Hope, who held brief for the lead prosecution counsel, Mr Shuaibu Labaran, informed the court of his ill health. 

She said the lead prosecuting counsel was unavoidable absent due to his health and urged the court to adjourn the matter to enable him come and continue with the trial. 

The defence, led by Mr S. N. Abba, said that there is no law which states that if the lead counsel is absent the matter could not hold. The defence stated that the lead counsel had on the last adjourned date came with large numbers of lawyers in order to move their motion of remanding the defendants. 

The defence further argued that the prosecution is not showing any seriousness that they want to commence trial, as they have not filed all the needed witnesses’ statement. 

The judge, Justice John Tsoho, adjourned the matter until June 6, for commencement of trial and ordered that the prosecution should avail all the necessary documents before the next adjourned date.

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