The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Wednesday set aside the conviction and seven year jail term slapped on erstwhile National Publicity Secretary, NPS of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja.
Justice Abang had found Metuh guilty of money laundering charges.
However, a three-man panel of the Appeal Court led by Justice Stephen Adah in a unanimous judgment on Wednesday, held that the proceedings of the Justice Abang’s court were laced with malice and bias and could not be allowed to stand.
According to Justice Adah who read the lead judgment, Justice Abang had during the trial established that he was manifestly biased against Metuh and his companies and as such could not have delivered a sound judgment.
The Appeal court as such sent Metuh for fresh trial under a different judge who must not be Justice Abang.
Justice Abang had following the years long trial on February 25, 2020, sentenced Metuh to seven years’ imprisonment for allegedly receiving receiving N400m from the Office of the National Security Adviser then being headed by Col Sambo Dasuki.
The special courts for the trial of terrorism-related cases has convicted and sentenced 113 Boko Haram members to jail over their involvement in acts of terrorism.
The convicts, who were sentenced to various jail terms, were arraigned before the special court sitting at the Wawa Military Cantonment, in Kainji, Niger State, by the Federal Government.
They were charged for various offences ranging from membership of the proscribed Boko Haram group, concealing information vital to security agencies, providing support to the sect, participating in acts of terrorism which resulted in the deaths of many persons and murder.
Those sentenced included one Kabiru Mohammed from Kaban-Magadan, in Funtua, Katsina State. He was accused of receiving training in the use of explosives and other terrorism items. He was also accused of participating in series of attacks in Bama, Kunduga, Baga in Borno State and Damaturu in Yobe State which resulted to lots of deaths in the two states.
According to him, he joined the sect in 2013 and rose to become a leader. He was said to have led others in carrying out attacks as well as instructing them to carry out attack on people and communities.
Mohammed, who disclosed that he voluntarily joined Boko Haram, said at a time, he became tired of the kind of life he was leading and threw away his gun and ran to Katsina State, his home town.
He was arrested in 2015 at a motor park in Katsina.
He pleaded guilty to all the 7-count charge and was consequently sentenced to 30 years imprisonment with hard labour on each of the counts which are to run concurrently from the day of his arrest.
Next was one Adamu Mohammed, 22 years from Gombe State, who was charged with the murder of six people as well as throwing a bomb at a market place.
While he admitted to killing six persons through the use of a short gun, he, however, claimed he threw the bomb in a river and not in a market place.
He was sentenced to 25 full calendar years with hard labour in a maximum prison and without an option of fine.
Banzana Yusuf, from Kano State, on his part bagged 20 years for his role in the planning and kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls in 2014.
So also was 25 year-old Shetima Modu, who was arraigned on a 4-count charge of engaging in terrorism activities.
He admitted to participating in attacks on a church in Mala village as well as another attack in Gonuri village where seven people were killed.
One Sabo Kyari Mohammed, who was described by the Department of State Service (DSS) as a “strong member of Boko Haram”, however, bagged a jail term of five full calendar years.
Part of his charges included providing surveillance for the group and participating in the attack known as ‘operation point and kill’ at his Musa village in Borno State.
He was arrested by men of the Nigerian Army in Jos, Plateau State along with his wife and two children.
In handing down the sentence, the trial judge stated that, though the defendant being a 1st time offender, the court ordinarily ought to have showed him mercy in the judgment, but, “due to the carnage and wanton destruction of lives their action caused society, he is to serve a five full calendar years imprisonment.
“This is to serve as a deterrent to himself and others like him “, the judge held.
Also sentenced was Zainab Idris, wife of Boko Haram commander, Babawo Idris.
Zainab was arrested in 2014 with her two children, while on her way to join her husband in Sambisa forest.
Her husband, popularly known as Idoko or Nagada was numbered 156 on the military’s wanted list before his arrest last September.
The court sentenced her to four years imprisonment for being a member of a proscribed group.
However, the court held that haven been in custody since 2014, it is possible that she has served her jail term and consequently ordered that she be released.
The judge, in addition ordered that she be taking to a rehabilitation center, ” for de-radicalization, and monitored under strict surveillance to avoid going back to Boko Haram”.
The judge advised her to learn a trade at the center so as to become useful to herself, her children and society in future.
However, the case of a notorious member of the sect, Mohammed Zakariya, also known as “Butcher”, could not be taken on the grounds that he was mentally sick.
The court consequently ordered that he be taken to a psychiatric for treatment and adjourned till November 14 for his arraignment.
The special sitting of the court, which held between Monday and Tuesday heard over a hundred cases.
A total of 111 persons were discharged / acquitted or had their cases struck out for lack of evidence to support the charges, while 9 others were adjourned to Abuja. (The Sun)