The accused have been charged before the Court on the 22nd of March by Kaduna State Government with five count offences, but all this while in absentia, presumably under bail.
The major charged reads: “on December 12th, 2016, at Zaria, while armed with dangerous weapons to wit: pistols, guns, dane guns, cutlasses, knives, capults, axes, clubs and sticks caused the death of one 98NA/46/2900 Cpl Yakubu Dankaduna of the Nigeria Army in the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff by shooting him with guns when the said soldier alighted from the entourage of the Chief of Army Staff in order to disperse and clear the road which you unlawfully blocked knowing that death is likely the consequence of your actions and you thereby committed the offence of culpable homicide under the section 221 of the Penal Code."
The other four charges had to do with blocking of major roads in Zaria and disturbances of the peace of the ancient city.
The Prosecuting Counsel, Barr. Dari Bayero complained to the Judge that the sureties to the 34 accused have refused to produce them in court and therefore pleaded with the Court to decide on whether to withdraw the bail or not.
Justice Hanatu Balogun asked the sureties, Musa Usman, Muhktar M.Sherrif and Khalid Isah why the accused were not in court.
Musa Usman, who spoke in Hausa, said: “I did not get bail for anyone. I was on my own on the 18th of December, 2015 when I got a call from Kaduna State Commissioner of Police to appear in his office. I obliged. The Commissioner said to me, ‘look, I have been instructed by the Governor to get your detained women and children out of our cells and send them home with immediate effect, before the Army find them and kill them. I don’t want them to spend 15 unites once we bring them. So, go and get buses and take them away’, the commissioner told me,” he said.
“I was able to arrange that. They were in different police cells in Kaduna. As soon as they police brought them, they were put in a bus. One bus was going on the way to Zaria conveying those who came from that axis up to Kano. Another was headed towards Niger state for those who came from that side up to Lagos. I did not even see their faces, so I don’t know them”, he said.
At this point Bayero interrupted pointing out that the three had signed as their surties with their passport and addresses on the form.
To these, Usman explained: “I was told that there was a woman among the detainees who gave birth in the police cell. The Commissioner gave me a form to sign as her surety so that she and the baby can be allowed out. Yes, I am sure of that. Then, he gave me another form to sign. It was for children, 7 boys and 12 girls. They are between 9, 12, 14, the oldest is 17. I was not told that I will bring them to Court. I just signed to let them out”
The Defence Counsel said as livid “I know we will end up like this. Because it was so difficult getting these men to Court today”, he said. “The Police cannot just tell you to come and sign and then the accused are free. . ”
“My Lord, the prosecutor was not with the police at that time, so he did not know what transpired, he should stop making such statement”, the lead Defense Counsel, Barrister Festus Okoye, interrupted Bayero.
Presented with evidence of his signature by the Judge, Usman confirmed his signature, but said he was unaware that the names were up 34.
“I am only aware of the woman that had given birth and the children. I don’t know that there was a list with up to 34 other names”, he said.
“And the problem is that it was only last Friday that the lawyer said that I should produce them today in court. Some of them live in Kano, Niger, Lagos and I don’t know them personally”, he said.
The Judge then asked him when he would be able to bring them, in which he said, he would need 30 days to do so.
“I expect you to bring them in Court that day. It is after when you bring them that the court will determine what to do”, said the Judge. The case was adjourned to June 20, 2016.