A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday sentenced Umar Mustapha, masterminder of the ThisDay newspapers house bombing to life imprison with hard labour.
Delivering judgment, Justice Ademola Adeniyi held that the prosecution proved the allegation against the convict beyond reasonable doubt.
Adeniyi said that the defence put up by the convict alleging that he (Umar) was on his way to the market before his arrested appeared unfounded.
“I have taken quality time to study the addresses of counsel to the parties in this criminal trial.
“I have also confined the decision of the court to pure law and nothing else.
“In the circumstance, I find the accused person, Umar Mustapha guilty of the offence as charged,
“He is therefore sentenced to life imprison with hard labour on the grounds that he did commit a terrorist act by bombing SOJ Plaza housing Thisday newspaper house on April 26, 2012 in Kaduna.
“ The act violates both Sections 12 (2d) and 33 (1a) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011.
“The convict is equally fined the sum of One hundred and fifty million (N150 million) to be shared among the families of the three victims who died in the blast,’’ he held.
The police had filed a one-count charge against Umar under the terrorism Act.
Nevertheless, Umar, who earlier pleaded not guilty to the charge, still affirmed his innocence while pleading the court for mercy.
Mr Sulyman Nurunee, counsel to the convict had explained that his client was the bread winner of his family as according to him, the decision was hash.
“My Lord, I want to express my profound gratitude to your industry and tact in deciding this case, however, I plead with you to tender justice with mercy.
“Mustapha as you can see is a young man full of life aspiration, this decision could be viewed as a death sentence my Lord; It will be too heavy for him to bear,’’ he said.
Nurunee had earlier prayed the court to determine if it could convict his client based on testimonies from masked prosecution witnesses and whose names and addresses were unknown.
He said the court should not rely on the evidence of group of persons masked without actual names and dependable addresses to convict and sentence an innocent man.
“We are totally opposed to the attempt to bend the country’s constitution to excommunicate my client,’’ he had said.
Nurunee further urged the court to determine whether a mere presence of the accused person as a passerby at the scene of the incident made him liable for the offence.
However, Mr Shuaibu Magaji, the prosecutor, in countering Nurunee’s late objection on the wearing of masks by witnesses, said a valid order of the court obliged it as protective measure.
Magaji said the convict admitted to be responsible for the plot and execution of the suicide bombing.
According to the prosecution, the convict further confessed on video that he (Umar) wishes to die doing the will of Allah by eliminating unbelievers.
He therefore urged the court to convict and sentence Umar based on the available evidence before the court.