The Federal Government today Tuesday arraigned an alleged leader of a splinter group of Boko Haram, Mohammed Usman (aka Khalid Albarnawi), his “second wife”, Halima Haliru, and five others, on among other charges of terrorism, hostage taking and murder of a total of nine expatriates.
Except Haliru, the other accused persons, including Usman, were accused of being members of Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (a.k.a Ansaru), a group described by the prosecution as a breakaway from Boko Haram.
The other co-accused named in the case marked, FHC/ABJ/CR/36/2017, are, Mohammed Saleh, Umar Bello(aka Abu Azzan); Mohammed Salisu (Datti), Yakubu Nuhu (aka Bello Maishayi) and Usman Abubakar (Mugiratu).
Usman is the first defendant while Haliru, said to be his second wife, is the seventh.
The defendants were arraigned on 11 counts before Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
They all pleaded not guilty to all the 11 charges which were read to two of them in English language and interpreted to the rest of them in Hausa.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Shuaibu Labaran (SAN), advised the judge to order that the defendants remained in the Department of State Service’s custody after the arraignment.
Labaran cited an intelligence report for his request.
Defence lawyers – Mr. S.M Atta and Mr. K. Abdulkareem (for the sixth defendant (Abubakar) – had informed the court that their clients had remained in the custody of the DSS for about five years.
They advised the court to order that their clients be remanded in prison so that lawyers and family members could have access to the defendants.
Justice Tsoho, in a ruling, held that the prison was the appropriate place of remand of any defendant after arraignment.
The judge ordered that the defendants be remanded in Kuje Prisons.
Labaran also disclosed that he was going to file an application for witness protection before the commencement of trial.
The court fixed April 11 for the hearing of the application.