The trial of Boko Haram suspect, Kabiru Umar, a.k.a. Kabiru Sokoto, was stalled in the Federal High Court in Abuja on Thursday due to the failure of his counsel to file a counter affidavit. Justice Adeniyi Ademola had on April 19, given the defendant's counsel, Adamu Ibrahim, seven days to respond to all the processes filed by the prosecution.
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At the resumed hearing, Mr. Ibrahim said the prison authority did not grant him access to his client.
"My Lord, I did not file the counter affidavit because the accused has not sufficiently briefed me on the matter.
"The prison authority prevented me from meeting with him even when the court in the last sitting granted me unhindered access to him.
"In fact, it appears the State Security Service (SSS) are more humane with the management of inmates in terms of their coordination of access to suspects," he said.
However, Chioma Oniegbu, the prosecutor, urged the court to go on with the trial as according to her, the defendant's counsel had met several times with the accused.
Ms. Oniegbu said the inability of the counsel to meet the accused at the moment could be connected with the ongoing renovation of the Kuje Prison.
She explained that the prison authority was conscious of the safety of inmates, adding that "the rowdiness at the prison due to ongoing work on the building had necessitated the tight security."
The court has ordered the transfer of the accused back to the SSS custody.
Mr. Umar was on April 19 arraigned in connection with the Christmas Day bombing of the St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger, in 2011. He is alleged to have had information about the bombing but failed to inform law enforcement agents.
The accused is also charged with being a member of a terrorist group known as Boko Haram between 2007 and 2012 at Mabira in Sokoto, Sokoto State. He was also allegedly found to have facilitated the execution of a terrorist act within the period.
According to the charge, the suspect committed an offence contrary to Section 15(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act 2004.
The two-count charge attracts life sentence, but the accused has pleaded not guilty.
The initial attempt to arraign Mr. Umar on March 20 was stalled due to the absence of the defence counsel.
Mr. Ademola adjourned the case to May 6 for trial.