|ThisDay Bomber: Photo Credit PMNews|
Mustapha Umar, a self confessed Boko Haram member arrested and tried before a Federal High Court siting in Abuja in connection with the 26th April, 2012 bombing of SOJ Plaza in Kaduna state occupied by ThisDay, The Moment and The Sun Newspapers, was on Friday found guilty of the one count charge of terrorism and sentenced for life.
The convicted terrorist was alleged to have driven a white Honda Academy car with registration number AL 306 MKA with improvised explosives devices into the premises of SOJ plaza with the intention to detonate improvised explosive devices within the premises.
The incident claimed the lives of three persons and caused several degrees of injuries on others.
The convict had pleaded not guilty during his trial but the court placed heavy reliance on his recorded interview which he granted to investigators during interrogations where he claimed to be a member of the deadly Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, as well as the testimonies of ten witnesses comprising of police officers who participated in the investigation and were led in evidence during the trial.
The prosecution drew the court’s attention to section 4 (2) of the Terrorism Act and asked the court to consider the deaths recorded at the incident and to pronounce a death sentence on the accused but the court declined that invitation and pointed out that the convict was charged against section One of the Terrorism Prevention Act which provides for a life sentence upon conviction.
The court also found that the convict demonstrated no remorse for his actions throughout the trial and observed that the souls of those whose deaths were caused by his actions are crying out for substantial justice noting that no one’s life is more important than that of others.
Furthermore, the court held that the convict’s reason for attacking ThisDay newspapers which he said was because the newspaper was denigrating Prophet Mohammed was unattainable and noted that as members of the fourth realm, nobody should be allowed to muzzle the press, an objective which the terrorist act was calculated to achieve .
Pleadings by the defence lawyer for the court to temper justice with mercy as the convict is a youth whose family and aged parents depend on for their livelihood fell on deaf ears as the court slammed a life sentence on the convict with a fine of One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira. His sentence is to be served with hard labour.
The court further noted that the state of mind of the convict with which the terrorism attack was planned, coordinated and orchestrated reinforced its determination to remove him from the public for life.
To the families of the victims of the terror act, the court awarded the sum of One Hundred and Fifty Million Naira, noting that their deaths should not just go like that. This will be forwarded to the Committee set up by the President on the resolution of the Boko Haram insurgents actions for payment.
The court presided by Justice Ademola Adeniyi also praised the Nigeria Police Force for the expertise and professionalism demonstrated in the trial which led to the quality prosecution of the matter by the team of lawyers led by Mr. Shuaibu Labaran, a senior state counsel from Nigeria’s Ministry of Justice.
The case is the first conviction recorded under the amended Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011.