Court grants witness protection against al–Barnawi, 6 Boko Haram commanders’ trial

A Federal High Court in Abuja has granted an application seeking for witness protection, in the trial of Khalid al-Barnawi, leader of Boko Haram dissident splinter group, Ansaru and six others.

The were arraigned on charges bothering on hostage taking and murder of internationally protected persons.

Al – Barnawi whose real name is Mohammed Usman who was allegedly responsible for the 2011 bombing of the United Nations (UN) building in Abuja, was also involved in many terrorist attacks in states of the federation, including Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Sokoto and FCT-Abuja.

Shuaibu Labaran, prosecuting counsel had prayed the court to allow, the prosecution witnesses be allowed to give their evidence, behind a screen to be provided by the court and for them to be addressed by synonyms.

Even though the defence counsels did not object to the application, they however faulted it on the grounds that the prosecution was already affirming allegations that was already before the court.

Justice Tsoho while granting the application did expunge the part that alleged the charges against the defendants.

The prosecution further moved its application for variation in the earlier order made by the court, remanding the defendants in Kuje, on the grounds that they be remanded at the custody of the Department of State Service (DSS), for national security reasons.

Justice Tsoho, having heard parties adjourned to April 25, 2017 for ruling on the application.

The leader of the terror group was arraigned alongside Mohammed Saleh, Umar Bello (Abu Azzan), Mohammed Salisu (Datti), Yakubu Nuhu (Bello Maishayi), Usman Abubakar (Mugiratu) and Halima Haliru, al – Barnawi’s second wife in an 11 count charge.

They were accused of kidnapping Christopher Mcmamus (Briton), Franco Lamoliara (Italian), Francis Colomp (French) and Edgar FridzRampach (German) at Birnin Kebbi where they were carrying out construction work and detained them at Mabera area of Sokoto State, before they were summarily murdered.

Al – Barnawi and his cohorts were also charged for intentionally killing seven internationally protected persons namely Carlos BouAzziz, Brendan Vaughan, Silvano Trevisan, Konstantinos Karras, Ghaida Yaser Sa’ad (F), Julio Ibrahim El-Khouli and Imad El-Andari and buried them in a shallow grave at Ikirima Boko Haram Camp of Sambisa Forest.

Al- Barnawi’s wife, was accused of having “information which you know to be of material assistance in preventing members of boko Haram splinter group known as Jama’atuAnsarulMuslimina Fi Biladis Sudan a.k.aANSARU from carrying out acts of terrorism but failed to disclosed it to the relevant security agencies you thereby committed an offence punishable under S.8 (1) (a) of Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 as amended in 2013”.

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