The State Security Service (SSS) on Wednesday in Abuja re-arraigned Husseni Ismaila (aka Maitangaran), the alleged mastermind of the 2014 multiple bomb attacks in Kano State.
The defendant was rearraigned at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
When the matter was called, the prosecuting counsel, E.A. Aduda, told the court that the SSS had filed an amended charge of four counts against the defendant. He asked the court to order that the charge should be read to the defendant and he should take his plea.
The defendant pleaded not guilty to all four count charges, which read:
“That you Husseni Ismaila, alias Maitangaran, 34-year-old male, professed to be a member of Boko Haram, a terrorist group, therefore contravening provisions of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2013, and punishable under the same Act.
“That you Husseni Ismaila, alias Maitangaran, 34-year-old, male, in 2014, directly participated in an act of terrorism and made a video message confessing to the crime of bombing the Kano Central Mosque.
“This led to the death of many Nigerians, including police personnel. The act contravened Section 1(2) (8) of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2013, and is punishable under the same Act.”
The prosecuting counsel asked the court to proceed with the trial in view of the not-guilty plea of the defendant.
The defence counsel, Peter Dajang, however, told the court that the trial should not go on because the prosecution had flouted a valid order of the court.
According to Mr Dajang, the court, on 6 December 2021, ordered the prosecution to transfer the defendant from its custody to the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja.
This, he said, was to enable his lawyers and family members have access to him, but the SSS had yet to obey the order as the defendant was still in its custody.
He added that the prosecution did not appeal the order when it was made by the court, and further argued that the court could not sit on appeal over its own ruling.
The defence counsel also argued that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the application of the prosecution to vary the order on the grounds that it was made on 6 December 2021 and the prosecution had only six days to apply for a variation.
“If the prosecution had intended to make an application to vary, they ought to have done that within time which is six days.
“Looking at the application which is seven months after the order was made, there is no prayer seeking the leave of court to file the application out of time.
“Also we submit that an order of court is a final decision of that court. When the order was made, parties were represented.
“The proper thing to have done was to appeal the decision and not to ask the court to sit on appeal over its decision, moreso that the time for filing an appeal has long passed,” the defence lawyer said.
The judge adjourned the matter till 25 January 2024 to rule on the application to vary the order it made that the defendant be transferred to Kuje.
He also fixed 7 February 2024 for continuation of the substantive matter.