By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
Justice Sulaiman Bolaji Belgore of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Apo, yesterday, remanded 60 members of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), known as Shi’ite Group, in Kuje prison in Abuja and Suleja prison in Niger State.
They were arraigned before the court on November 27 by the Police command on charges bordering on homicide, disturbances of public peace and destruction of government properties.
The accused were arrested during the July 22, protest at the Federal Secretariat area of Abuja, led to the death of Deputy Commissioner of Police Usman Umar and Precious Owolabi, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member with Channels Television.
The members of the EL Zakzaky religious sect however,
They pleaded not guilty to the charges when read out to them in court.
When the matter came up yesterday, counsel for the defendants, Bala Dakum, informed the court that he filed a bail application on behalf of the Shi’ite members.
However, the court informed him that he filed only one bail application for the 60 defendants, which was brought by way of summon.
Subsequently, he withdraws the application in order to file separate applications for the defendants.
Sequel to the withdrawal, the judge struck out, having been withdrawn by the defence counsel with no objection from the prosecution.
Consequent upon this, the counsel for the prosecution, Simon Lough, requested that the defendants should be remanded in Kuje and Suleja prison yards
The counsel, who is a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), asked that 54 male defendants should be remanded at Kuje, while the remaining six defendants, who are females, 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.
The prosecution’s oral applications for the remand of the defendants and trial being held at where they are being remanded were, however, not opposed by Dakum.
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 at prison yards.
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 then adjourned till February 5, 2020 for commencement of trial.