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Opinion

I’m not a terrorist, Miyetti Allah’s leader, Bodejo tells court

The detained President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Bodejo, who is facing a three-count terrorism charge, yesterday insisted on his innocence, saying he had no criminal record prior to his arrest.

Bodejo was arrested at the Miyetti Allah’s office in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State shortly after he unveiled a vigilante group.

He has been in custody of the Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA, since January 23, even though the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had on March 22, okayed his detention.

However, the defendant, through his team of lawyers, led by Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, approached the court to release him on bail, pending the determination of the charge against him.

In his application, the defendant, while maintaining that the charge against him contained bailable offences, argued that under the 1999 Constitution, as amended, he ought to be presumed innocent until his guilt was established.

He pledged not to jump bail if released from detention, adding that his deteriorating health had created an exceptional circumstance that should sway the discretion of the court in his favour.

The defendant contended that the proof of evidence adduced in the matter did not disclose any prima- facie criminal case against him to warrant his trial.

He, therefore, prayed the court to grant him bail on liberal terms, even as he expressed readiness to produce responsible persons that would stand as his sureties.

However, the federal government which is prosecuting the matter, opposed the defendant’s request for bail.

FG had earlier told the court that his continued detention was in the interest of national security.

In a counter affidavit that was deposed to by one Noma Wando, a litigation clerk in the Department of Public Prosecutions, Federal Ministry of Justice, FG, urged the trial court to dismiss Bodejo’s bail application.

According to the deponent, the defendant is standing trial for terrorism-related offences that involved his establishment of an ethnic militia in Nasarawa State, as well as the management and participation in activities connected with acts that were prejudicial to national security and public safety.

FG told the court that Bodejo provided material support, assistance and transportation for activities connected with such acts, contrary to Sections 29, 2(3)(g}(xii) and 12(a) and Section 2(3)(g)(xii), and 13 (2)(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

It countered the defendants claim that he was suffering from a life-threatening ailment that could not be handled at the DIA’s Medical Center in Abuja.

FG noted that the DIA is situated close to the State House Medical Centre, Abuja, which it said “boasts of the best of doctors, specialists and consultants.”

Besides, FG disclosed that the defendant was only diagnosed of high blood pressure which it said had since been managed effectively by the DIA.

“The federal government’s holding centres and custodial centres have always ensured that the medical needs of persons in custody are met and they have always undertaken to ensure that whenever the occasion arises special medical treatment is available to their inmates,” it added.

Meanwhile, the lawyer that represented the defendant in court on Wednesday, Dr Sulaiman Usman, SAN, requested for time to enable him to respond to FG’s counter-affidavit which he said was just served on him.

The application for an adjournment was granted by trial Justice Inyang Ekwo.

The court had earlier fixed May 27, 28, 29 and 30 for accelerated hearing of the substantive case. A count in the charge against the defendant, marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/141/2024, read: “That you, Bello Bodejo, Male, Adult, on or before the 17th Day of January. 2024, at Lafia, Nassarawa State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court committed an offence to wit: you established an ethnic militia known as Kungiya Zaman Lafiya, without authorization and thereby committed an act prejudicial to national security and public safety, and an offence punishable under Section of 29 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.”

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