The Federal High Court Abuja yesterday fixed February 28 for ruling on the bail application brought by
Embattled Dr Nazeef Yunus, a lecturer at the Kogi State University, Ayingba, Umar Musa and millionaire businessman Alhaji Salami Abdullahi accused for allegedly being members of a Boko Haram cell.
Dr Nazeef, 44, said to be a lecturer in the Department for Islamic Studies is accused of being the spiritual leader of the cell, and was among the suspects paraded by the Department of State Security Service late last year.
Specifically, count one alleged that the accused persons were engaged in clandestine acts that border on terrorism, while count two accused the suspects of procuring and being in possession of two AK 47 rifles, two magazines and 60 rounds of ammunition.
The accused persons are also alleged to be recruiting and organising members of the Kogi Boko Haram cell, while Alhaji Salami was charged for owning a petrol filing station where members of the Boko Haram plan their activities.
Arguing in favour of the bail application before Justice Gabriel Kolawole,
Hassan Liman, counsel to Dr Yunus said his bail application was dated January 29 and filed same date, and was supported by a 23 paragraph affidavit as well as a written address.
He argued that under Section 118(1) of Criminal Procedure Act, the court has discretion to admit an accused person on bail to any offence including capital offence.
“In terrorism law, court has the discretion in terms of punishment that can be imposed on a convicted person, it may not necessarily impose maximum penalty, adding that the cases cited by the FG are cases of murder and culpable homicide.
He said Dr Yunus has been able to present to the court cogent and convincing facts which will persuade the court to exercise its discretion in ranting bail in favour of the 1st accused person.
“At this stage of proceeding, the man standing in the dock is presumed innocent until proven otherwise; therefore the court should resist the temptation of being dragged into the arena of determining guilt of the accused.
Liman submitted further that on a clear examination of the facts contained in the affidavit and counter affidavit, Dr Yunus has made a case in which the court should exercise discretion, more so that investigation into the matter has been concluded long ago.
“He is a university lecturer and holds a PhD in Islamic Studies. He cannot run or jump bail. After his arrest, it was his proactive attitude to be arraigned that made the Federal Government to start his prosecution.
Therefore, I urge the court to grant him bail, pointing out that the same court had sometime last year granted bail to Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, who faced terrorism charges.
On his part, James Ocholi counsel to the 2nd accused person Alhaji Salami Abdullahi while applying for bail of his client equally exhibited a medical report from Garki General Hospital.
Ocholi urged the court to consider the quality of evidence shown, insisting there was no prima facie case.
“There is no credible evidence, even from forensic analysis report and case brief on forensic investigation, have shown that there is no link between the Salami and the charges levelled against him suggesting that he committed an offence.
He urged the court to hold that the medical report having not been challenged, it is safe for the court to act upon it because only a living person can face trial.
Abdul Mohammed who represented the 3rd accused person, Umar Musa urged the court to grant his client bail on the grounds that he would not jump bail and cannot in anyway interfere with witnesses coming to testify in court.
He therefore urged the court to use its discretion to grant bail to Musa, insisting that the court should discountenance the depositions made by the prosecution counsel, B. Johnson Nebo (Mrs) that the 3rd accused person made confessional statements that he was a member of Boko Haram, on the group’s payroll etc.
On her part, the prosecution counsel, said her counter affidanvit in opposition to the bail application of the 1st accused person was dated February 3, 2014 and supported by a 13 paragraph conuter affidavit.
Nebo cited a Supreme Court case, Asari Dokubo v FRN 2009/4NCC, page 158 at 189, adding that the nature of offence, weight of evidence, the punishment and probability of guilt etc are weighty issues which the court cannot ignore.
She argued also that the charge before the court is a capital offence, which has as the law provided, maximum punishment of by death, pointing out that the nature of offence can make the accused abscond from trial.
“The accused person is charged under Section 1(2) (B) of Terrorism Prevention Act 2013 as amended as is likely to jump bail because it carries death penalty” Nebo said.
She argued further that a prima facie case being determined before filing of charges does not affect the presumption of innocence of the accused persons.
“The prosecution has filed evidences against the accused persons showing a strong prima facie case against them. The fact that investigation has been concluded in this case does not without more, entitle the accused persons to bail in the circumstance” the prosecution counsel said.
“We are asserting here that the offence borders on national security and Kogi state in particular. Granting them bail will lead to security risks and threats to unsuspecting public” she added.
Nebo stated that from Section 118(1) of CPA, “it is clear that the drafters of that section did not intend that persons charged with capital punishment should be granted bail in general terms”.
She therefore urged the court not to grant bail to the accused persons, as according to herd, “the prosecution is minded to expeditious trial and undertake to pursue diligent prosecution of this case”.