From Ado Abubakar Musa, Jos
6 persons suspected to have murdered a Catholic Priest, Catechist Raphael Pankyes were on Tuesday arraigned before a Pankshin High Court in Plateau.
The catechist, 52, was reportedly murdered in his farm at Fier Village in Pankshin Local Government of Plateau on July 16, 2017 by some unknown persons until a week later when the police succeeded in arresting the six suspects.
The suspects, David Bala, Andrew Solomon, Pam Joseph and Mohammed Musa (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th accused) were accused of conspiracy, murder and robbery, while Sylvester Barnabas and Emmanuel Dagul (5th and 6th accused), were accused of purchasing the dead catechist’s stolen Motorcycle from the four suspected killers.
The 1st – 4th accused were being tried on a three count charge of conspiracy, murder and robbery contrary to and punishable under sections section 96, 97 (1) and 221 of the Penal Code law of Northern Nigeria and section 1 (1)(2)(a)(b of robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Acts CAP RII LFN 2004.
The 5th and 6th suspects were being tried on one count charge of receiving and or purchasing a robbery property (Red Hero Motorcycle) valued at N301, 666.69 at a ridiculous price of N85, 000 thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 5 of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provision) Acts CAP RII LFN 2004.
When the case came up before the presiding Judge, Justice Nanpon Dadi on Tuesday and the charges were read to the suspects as per their respective crimes, they all pleaded not guilty.
One of the suspects, David Bala, who had no lawyer to defend him, had pleaded with the court for more time to enable secure one that could represent him.
“My Lord, I am sorry. I have not been enable to secure a lawyer that could represent me in court yet but I am pleading for more time to enable me secure one, ’’ Bala pleaded.
The Prosecution Counsel from the State Ministry of Justice, Mr Nanbol Miner, who concurred with the plea of the suspect, told the court that given the weight of the case there would be need for the suspect to have a lawyer to represent him.
“My Lord, considering the magnitude of this case, I think it’s expedient on the suspect to have a legal representation in the interest of justice and fairness.
“I am therefore not objecting to his plea and application for an adjournment to enable him do the needful for us to proceed with the hearing of this case as soon as possible, ’’ Miner stated.
Also Mr Samuel Abbah, counsel to the 2nd -4th accused and Mrs Suzan Okoronkwo Counsel to the 5th and 6th accused, did not object to the plea and application of the suspect.
Justice Dadi, however, adjourned the case to Feb. 20, 2018 for hearing.