Following the criticism that trailed the verdict delivered by the Federal High court for sentencing some Boko Haram members to 25-years imprisonment instead of death sentence, the Lagos State government has come out to explain why the sentenced was done in that manner.
Speaking at a briefing on Thursday, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye, explained the legal process that led to the judgment, Vanguard reports.
The Attorney General stated that 17 suspects were at the beginning arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba as at March, 2013, but by November of same year, they were reduced to four suspects because there was no solid evidence presented against them that could facilitate prosecution.
He said the convicts could not be handed a death sentence because they were yet to carry out an act of terrorism hence was not guilty of murder or terrorism. He revealed that he had to obtain a fiat from his federal AG for the prosecution to file a “nolle prosecui” in favour of those released by the court.
Ipaye further insisted that the 13 suspects had to be released because further investigation carried out on them could not produce enough evidence to continue to hold them. He gave the names of those that went through trial and eventually convicted by Justice Ibrahim Buba, as Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman and Bala Haruna.
He said the convicts were charged on a six count charge bordering on conspiracy, acts of terrorism, concealing information and possession of firearms and ammunitions under the terrorism Act, 2013. He disclosed that the law under which they were charged actually prescribed maximum penalty of death sentence for the aforementioned crimes.
“For this, the trial judge would have to consider whether the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were detonated, whether it caused grievous bodily harm or death of individuals among other consideration before coming down heavily with the law” he said.
Ipaye after listing the various stages of terrorist acts which require sentences pointed out that the convicts were caught at stage three, while they were still planning, noting that at this stage, they cannot be charged, even for attempting to commit terrorist act.
“Investigation even revealed that they were caught with the IEDs in their rooms at Ijora Oloye, fully primed and ready to be deployed,” Ipaye said.
The Attorney General, who said each of the convicts would spend a total of 25 years in prison said, the convicts would first spend 20 years on charges bothering on terrorism, which would run concurrently, and thereafter commence another term of five years for being in possession of firearms and ammunitions.
According to him, the fourth suspect, Bala Haruna was not charged for the same crime with the other three convicts, as he was the person that wanted to bail one of the convicted persons. He said following doubts on the evidence against Haruna, the court had to discharge and acquit him.
It would be recalled that all through the trial, the court carried out its proceedings under camera.
Meanwhile, it would be recalled that the Nigerian military tribunal recently sentenced 12 soldiers to death after being convicted of carrying out mutiny, a judgment that was condemned by some concerned Nigerians, with the most recent of such condemnation coming from the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), who took a swipe at the Nigerian Senate for showing blind eyes to the predicament of the 12 soldiers