Friday, November 25, 2011

I aided Boko Haram to bomb INEC, says witness

•Detained Senator’s supporters protest •Jonathan in Paris: sect will fizzle out

A COURT heard yesterday how a man assisted the Boko Haram group to bomb the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Suleja, Niger State on April 8.
Ahmed Ezimakor told a Federal High Court, Abuja that he helped the sect to get detonators and cables that were used in the INEC bombing and the attack on the Christian Fellowship Mission, also in Suleja.
Ezimakor, whose parents are Igbo, was born in Niger Republic, where he grew up. He said he was approached because he is a trained miner. But he denied knowing the tools were to be used for mass murder. 
The witness gave the testimony at the ongoing trial of six suspected members of the group before Justice Bilikisu Aliyu. 
The suspects are Shuaibu Abubakar, Salisu Ahmed, Umar Babagana, Mohammed Ali, Umar Ibrahim and a spiritualist, Musa Adam. 
They have pleaded not guilty to a five-count charge of criminal conspiracy and voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous means slammed against them by the State Security Service (SSS). 
 The alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 97 and 248(1) of the Penal Code Law, and Section 15 (2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Establishment Act 2004. 
Led in evidence-in-chief by the prosecution counsel, Thompson Olatigbe, Ezimakor said members of the group were trained in an uncompleted building in a market in Madalla, Niger State. He disclosed that he first met with the late leader of the group, Mohammed Yusuf, in Kuje prisons, Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“When I first encountered him, he preached the philosophy of Boko Haram to me and I was convinced. Boko Haram was initially not conceived to be a violent group. It was meant to preach peace, the teachings of Prophet Mohammed and the Qur’an,” he said, adding:
“I believed Yusuf especially when I watched his debate with one of our leaders in Bauchi. It was a video debate and that changed my thinking and I became his apostle. I took an oath to remain loyal to him, but after his death, I broke the oath.”
According to him, the group turned violent, following the murder of Yusuf. He said members were illegally trained in weapons handling and using AK 47 assault rifle by Ibrahim Bashir Madalla, who is still at large.
 “After the Maiduguri crisis in 2009, we were called by one Bashiru Madalla in Madalla that there was a message for us and that the message was from our new leader, Mallam Abubakar Shikau. I declined because I was no longer a member of the sect because I broke the oath I took with Yusuf, but the first accused person whom I know in Niger Republic where I was born led other members to Madalla.
“The message was to give them training so as to revenge what happened to their fellow members. So after the training at Madalla, we parted ways.”
In his own testimony, another witness, Mohammed Dalhatu, said he procured the detonators and delivered them to Abubakar (first accused). 
Under cross examination by the defence counsel, Emeka Okoro and Nureini Suleiman, he told the court that he did not know the purpose for which the detonators and the cortex wire were bought by the accused persons. 
The accused persons are alleged to be the brains behind the April bombing at the INEC office in Suleja, Niger State, where 16 persons including serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members died on the eve of the rescheduled National Assembly elections. 
The accused persons also allegedly conspired with others at large to cause grievous bodily harm by unlawfully planting deadly substances which led to the death of another three persons at a political rally in Suleja. 
They also allegedly detonated explosives which resulted in the deaths of three police officers in Dakna Village, Bwari.
The alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 97 and 248(1) of the Penal Code Law.