A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, presided over by Justice Ibrahim Buba, yesterday sentenced three Boko Haram members to 25 years imprisonment each, over their involvement in acts of terrorism.
The convicted Boko Haram members were among the 17 accused who were earlier arraigned before the court on November 27, 2013.
The 17 accused include: Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman, Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala, Kadiri Mohammed, Mustapha Daura, Abba Duguri, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya, and Musa Audu.
Others are: Mati Daura, Farouk Haruna, Abdullahi Azeez, Ibrahim Bukar and Zula Diani.
Specifically, the Lagos State Government had initiated an eight-count charge bordering on acts of terrorism and possession of prohibited firearms and ammunition against the accused persons.
The judgment was delivered in camera as journalists and other lawyers were ordered to vacate the courtroom, leaving the prosecution and defence counsels.
Prior to this development, Justice Buba had sought the views of lawyers in court, if it was within the law to deliver the judgment in the open court.
But the Lagos State Deputy Director of Prosecution, Idowu Alakija (Mrs), insisted that since the trial was conducted in camera for security reasons, judgment should also be delivered in the same manner.
But Justice Buba who noted that even judges learn everyday, said he would like to do a brief research on the subject, and rose at about 11.30 am with a promise to return by 12:00 pm.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, Justice Buba asked counsels in the matter to address the court on the legality of giving judgment in camera.
In addressing the court, Lagos State Attorney General (AG) and Justice Commissioner, Ade , posited that if the trial was conducted in secret, the judgment should also be delivered in secret as the judgment was also an inherent part of the proceeding.
The defence team also maintained the same position.
This then led Justice Buba to order everyone except the parties and the security operatives to vacate the courtroom to allow him deliver his judgment.
However, in a bid to cover the proceeding, judicial correspondents attached to the court had approached the Deputy Chief Registrar (DCR) and the Administrative Head of the Court, Mr. Bello Okandeji to complain.
Okandeji then led journalists to the court but was restrained by security men at the door who told the DCR that they had specific instructions not to allow anyone into the courtroom at the moment.
But after the judgement was delivered and court had risen, journalists approached one of the lawyers who witnessed the judgment.
The source who pleaded anonymity, told newsmen that although 17 of the accused had earlier been arraigned, the A-G had discontinued proceedings against 13 of them, by a nolle prosequi.
According to the source, the court had found the first three accused guilty of the offence as charged, and had accordingly sentenced them to 25 years imprisonment each.
According to the source, “The fourth accused, who was charged with allegedly sponsoring the sect, was, however, discharged and acquitted, on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish his guilt.”
It would be recalled that after the arraignment of the accused persons in 2013, journalists were also barred from covering the proceedings.
According to the charge, the Boko Haram members were alleged to have committed the offences on March 21, at Plot 5, Road 69, Lekki Phase I Housing Estate, and No. 24, Oyegbeni St., Ijora-Oloye, Apapa-Iganmu, Lagos.
They were said to have been caught in possession of three packets of explosive device pipes, 15 detonators, and 11 AK47 rifles with 30 rounds of live ammunitions.
Other items reported to have been found in their possession included 200 rounds of 7.6 millimetres live ammunition, two suitcases containing explosives, and a water container filled with explosives.
The offences were said to have contravened the provisions of Sections 13(2) and 17(b) of the Terrorism Act 2013.
They also contravene Sections 1, 8, 27 (1) (a) and (b) of the Firearms (special provisions) Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation, 2004, and punishable under Section 8 of the same act.