Thirteen suspects fingered in the murder of Alhaji Mohammed Abdulsafur, the village head of Lammbata, have been arraigned before Suleja High Court.
The suspects and others allegedly killed the village head on Saturday, January 14, 2023, over a lingering chieftaincy tussle that led to the ascension of the deceased to stool.
They were earlier standing trial at Minna Senior Magistrate Court Number Seven, presided over by Hajiya Fati Kabir, who held a preliminary charge before they were properly arraigned before Suleja High Court.
29 of the defendants were charged to court, out of which thirteen of them physically took their plea before Justice Aisha Wodu Bawa of Suleja High Court Number Three, while sixteen of the defendants were said to be at large.
Additionally, two others were still in Minna correctional custody and were to be brought in on the next adjourned date for them to take their plea.
Those in court were Umar Ilyasu Sarki, Hamza Umar Sarki, Dauda Umar Sarki, Abdulkareem Dantani, Yusuf Chaska, Zubairu Dabaka, Donbitso, Jibrin Garba Dende, and Ibrahim Mohammed.
Others include Ilyasu Dantani, Yakubu Bisalla, Musa Mohammed, Adamu Yusuf, Yunusa Ibrahim Abdullahi Umaru, Musa Abubakar, Danladi Dashi, Mohammed Atiku, and Usman Habib.
The office of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in the State Ministry of Justice arraigned the thirteen accused persons or defendants on five-count charges, which included culpable homicide, disturbing public peace, inciting disturbance, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous means, and mischief by fire.
The five-count charges, according to the Assistant Chief State Counsel in the State Ministry of Justice, Barrister Mohammed Galadima, were punishable under Section 79 of the Joint Act, contrary to Section 221 of the Penal Code.
One of the counts read in parts; “That you, Umar Ilyasu Sarki, on about the 14th day of January 2023, at Lammbata within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, had formed a common intention with Hamza Umar Sarki, Dauda Umar Sarki, Abdulkareem Dantani, Yusuf Chaska, Zubairu Dabaka, Danbitso, and Nda’allah Dagbq to commit an offence to wit: culpable homicide, in furtherance of which you went to the house of Mallam Mohammed Abdulsafur, who is the Village Head of Lammbata, got him beaten to a pulp, and inflicted head injuries on him. You all thereby committed an offence of joint act contrary to Section 79 read together with Section 221 of the penal code.”
When the five-count charges were read to them by Justice Aisha Bawa Wodu and interpreted for them, they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At this point, Barrister Ahmed Baba Shehu applied for their bail. The bail application is supported by a fourteen-paragraph affidavit urging the Court to grant the defendants bail and assuring that “if granted bail, they will provide a reasonable surety that would stand for them and will abide by any of the bail conditions.
Objecting to the bail application, the Assistant Chief State Counsel in the office of the Attorney General of Niger State, Barrister Mohammed Galadima, told the court that he had filed a counter-affidavit to object to the bail application as moved by the defence counsel and requested the court to adjourn the case to commence hearing into the matter.
Justice Aisha Bawa Wodu, thereby adjourned the case to October 17, 2023.
She then ordered their remand in correctional custody pending the ruling on the bail application.