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108 Jos Riot Suspects Arraigned in Abuja

Published on Sunday 7th February 2010

About 108 suspects arrested in the aftermath of the sectarian riot in Jos, Plateau State during which hundreds of people lost their lives and properties worth billions of naira were destroyed, were arraigned yesterday before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

One of the accused, one Daniel Gaba was said to have died after taking ill in detention. Sources said he died in the hospital he was rushed to in Abuja.

The accused were brought to court around 1p.m in two police buses with more than 100 armed policemen who immediately took positions in and around the court. They were subsequently martched into the courtroom where two justices; K. C. Okoronkwo and Gabriel Kolawole took the arraignment and pleas of the accused. Some of the accused persons, who are teenagers, claimed that they did not understand English and the court allowed interpreters to read the charges to them. They were grouped on the compatibility of the offence committed.

While some were charged for murder, others were charged with conspiracy, arson and terrorism, the offences to which they all pleaded not guilty. The prosecution team led by a commissioner of police, Legal Services, Bala Hassan told the court that investigations were in progress and to keep the accused in circulation would aggravate the situation in Jos, thereby applying for the order of the court to remand them in Kuje prison.

One of the accused pleaded that he be allowed to sit down because he was a diabetic and the court obliged him. But when he signified intention to talk, the court said he should wait until the hearing date already fixed for 23 March 2010. Justin Tuan, a lawyer to two of the accused (Emmanuel Kaase and Ibrahim Ache) raised objection on the arraignment of his clients outside the jurisdiction where the offences were allegedly committed. But Justice Okorokwo advised him to formally put his objection and the bail application he sought to move earlier, before the court for determination.

Some of the accused in court were Hassan Umar, Abubakar Abdullahi, Semiu Danmallam, Awalu Abdullahi, Ishaku Salihu, Nuhu Haruna, Emmanuel Kaase, Joseph Peter, Musa Abtab, Rahman Amu and Hassan Umar among others. Hearing has been fixed for different dates in March. The Nigerian Army has howevere discribed a video clip posted on the internet via mobile phones depicting soldiers who appear to be shooting civilians during the recent crisis. A statement signed by the director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the army claimed the images were manipulated, describing the video as a wicked act contrived to put the army in bad light. "It was obviously aimed at embarrassing the Nigerian Army while at the same time stirring the polity."

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