Why I withdrewed from Boko Haram leader’s trial – Judge

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Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court in Abuja has withdrawn from the trial of the alleged leader of a Boko Haram breakaway group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (aka Ansaru), Mohammed Usman (aka Khalid Albarnawi), his second wife, Halima Haliru and six others.

The judge announced his withdrawal on Tuesday while ruling on an application filed by six of the eight defendants for him to transfer the case to another judge because he had exhibited element of bias having allegedly changed his earlier position on the matter.

The Federal Ministry of Justice had earlier this year arraigned the accused persons before Justice Tsoho on an 11-count amended charge relating to terrorism.

They were accused of taking hostage and murdering nine foreigners, including some British and Italian nationals between 2011 and 2013 in Sokoto, Kebbi, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe and other states in the northern part of the country.

Following their arraignment, Justice Tsoho ordered their remand in prison.

But, upon an application by the prosecution, the judge changed his mind and directed that the defendants be kept in the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) and adjourned for trial.

When parties got to court on Tuesday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Shuaibu Labaran, said the prosecution was ready to commence trial.

He told the court that his witnesses were available.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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