By V. Al-pea
Since the arraignment of twelve Jihadists who were captured after the gruesome massacre which took place March 7th 2010 at Dogo NaHawa, very little has been heard from the federal high court in Jos. Thus The Messenger began looking into the matter. From inquiries made, there appears to be confusion and skepticism about the date and place the trial is to be held.
You should recall, the twelve were accused of terrorism, armed with dangerous weapons, attacking and killing many persons, intimidation and the destruction of properties at the arraignment. While they had allegedly confessed to the crime after they were captured just after the attacks, the twelve entered a not guilty plea at the arraignment. Testifying for the prosecution, Police Inspector Orji Okwaji told the court that the statements of the accused were interpreted and read back to them for verification after it was taken. Also the police officer stated that no intimidation or force was used to obtain statements from the accused. In addition, the officer said that the accused willingly admitted to taking part in the killings.
When cross examined by A.S Ahmed, the accused counsel, inspector Orji said he has no recording of the statements which were made by the accused. Nevertheless, he insisted that the statement made by the accused men were written down by the police and that the written statements are accurate. Asked if the accused made their statements in a friendly atmosphere without duress, the police officer said that the men joyfully and explicitly narrated their mission of vengeance on the people of Dogo Na NaHawa without remorse.
After the proceeding, The Plateau State Attorney General Mr. Edward Pajok complained that the case was within the jurisdiction of the Plateau State High court and that it should not be tried at the Federal High Court. Since his statement, there have been rumors about difficulties moving the case forward. The federal governmentʼs silence on the case has been deafening, further fueling the rumors.
Unable to obtain official statements about the case from the high court and the ministry of information, The Messenger tracked down some legal experts including a Plateau State prosecutors. Speaking with the prosecutor, who wanted to remain anonymous for this story, The Messenger gathered, as he alleged, there are pressures from the federal level to suppress the case. His comments appear credible from the stand point that the case is currently in the hand of the federal government. Nevertheless, we have no evidence to confirm the validity of his claim. We were also unable to obtain any information about jihadist who were taken to Abuja after the arrests. This is very important because up to 300 men were arrested in connection with the killings. As our efforts to get documents to substantiate several allegations and the efforts to track down arrested jihadists have both been so far unsuccessful, we intend to further report on this matter soon. Meanwhile a ciivil rights officer in Abuja expressed concern that the case had stalled because of the last elections.