Five suspected Boko Haram members were yesterday arraigned before Lokoja Chief Magistrate Court 1 over their alleged involvement in the kidnap of children of the Speaker, Kogi House of Assembly, Alhaji Momoh-Jimoh Lawal.
The suspects, Ibrahim Garba, Usman Musa, Husseini Ovaku, Husseini Umar and Ogah Sunday were charged with criminal conspiracy, armed robbery, belonging to an unlawful society and kidnapping contrary to sections 97(1), 289(c) and 100 of the Penal Code Law and 3(3) and 7 of the Kogi state Kidnapping, Thuggery and other related Offences (Prohibition) Law, 2010.
They were arraigned through an application urging the court to take cognizance of offences under section 143(C) of the Criminal Procedure code (CPC) signed by Mohammed Abaji Esq.,Senior Legal Officer with the state Ministry of Justice.
The suspects, according to Abaji, on April 15, invaded the private residence of the Speaker in Okengwe, Okene Local Government area, while armed with sophisticated weapons and kidnapped his two sons, three-year old Hafiz and Ogirima, six.
The accused, he said, took the children away in a dark blue Toyota Yaris marked Lagos: AKD 224 AY belonging to their mother and later demanded a N200million ransom for their release.
Abaji said investigations after their release on Friday June 6, and 53 days in the kidnappers’ den, revealed that the accused and others now at large, who were members of an unlawful society, the Boko Haram, masterminded the kidnap.
It was also revealed through their confessional statements that a Boko Haram leader, simply known as Musa trained them in weapons’ handling in a forest on Ajaokuta-Okene road, about two-hour walk from the highway into the forest.
They were also alleged to have carried out the armed robbery attacks on Ajaokuta and Auchi branches of the First Bank of Nigeria PLC and other robberies in Kaduna state.
Abaji told the court that investigations were on-going as he applied for another date for mention but urged the court to remand them in prison custody, opposing granting of bail to them in view of the enormity of the alleged offences.
Counsels to the 1st, 2nd to 4th and 5th accused, Kevin Fenaiye, Safiya Abdullahi and Shu’aibu Ibrahim respectively in their oral applications for bail cited sections 36(5) of the constitution and 341(1)(2)(3) of the CPC emphasising presumption of innocence of the accused.
In his ruling, the Chief Magistrate, Levi Animoku held that the laws equally prescribed restraint of an accused where and when necessary.
Animoku said that in view of the weight of punishment, especially for kidnapping which is life imprisonment without an option of fine, in line with the state laws, it was not safe to admit the accused to bail.
“I am not convinced to grant them bail, the application is hereby refused” he said as he ordered that the accused be remanded at Federal Prisons, Koton-Karfe and adjourned to September 17, for mention.