A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, said that it would hear the bail application filed by three detained members of the Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement on April 5.
Justice Emeka Nwite stated this after Aliyu Musa Yawuri, counsel to the 1st defendant, informed the court about the pending bail application which he said had been before the court.
While Yawuri appeared for 1st defendant, Bala Dakum and Bello Ibrahim, represented 2nd and 3rd defendants respectively.
The Federal Government, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/129/2004, had filed a seven-count charge bordering on Terrorism against Haruna Ali Abbas, Ibrahim Hussaini Musa and Adam Suleiman, who are 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.
In the amended charge dated and filed on May 17, 2016 by the prosecution, the defendants were accused, in count one, to have conspired among themselves between 2008 and 2013 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of the court to do an act preparatory to an act of terrorism to wit; obtaining Nigeria’s international passport and Iranian visa for the purpose of travelling to Iran for terrorist training.
They were, therefore, said to have committed an offence punishable under Section 17 of Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 as amended by Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013, among other counts.
At the resumed hearing on Tuesday, the Department of State Services (DSS)’s lawyer, Bello K. Abu, told the court that the matter was slated for trial-within-trial and that they were ready to proceed.
It would be recalled that the defence counsel had alleged that the DSS forcefully obtained the defendants’ statements.
They argued that the statements made were not voluntary.
The development made the judge to order for a trial-within-trial with a view to unravel the genuineness of the claim.
When the matter commenced, the first prosecution witness in the trial-within-trial, John Afolabi, sought the court leave to adopt his witness statement as his evidence after he was led in evidence-in-chief by lawyer to the DSS, Mr Abu.
Afolabi, a Principal Staff Officer in the Operations Support Department of DSS, National Headquarters, said he sworn to the witness statement on oath on May 19, 2022.
But counsel to the defence, who opposed Afolabi’s move to adopt his witness statement as his evidence, argued that Afolabi should give his evidence orally in compliance with the provisions of the law.
However, Abu disagreed with them.
He said the court, in the last adjourned date, gave an order to the effect that the evidence of the witness should be via witness deposition following his application.
Justice Nwite then read out the proceeding of February 28, 2022, to clarify the issue.
The judge, who granted the prosecution plea, said it was within the defence counsel’s right to cross examine the witness.
After adopting his witness statement as his evidence, the three lawyers to the defendants cross-examined Afolabi, and Justice Nwite consequently adjourned the matter until April 5 for hearing of the bail application of the detainees and for continuation of trial-within-trial.