Court Discharges, Acquits Islamic Movement Militants standing trial for Protest in Kaduna

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Nigeria Shiite Muslims hold religious flags and banners in a procession celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and also demanding the release of Shiite leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, on posters, in Kano, Nigeria, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. The demonstration was in part provoked after a recent attack by Nigerian soldiers who fired on unarmed Islamic Shiite children with no provocation, killing some hundreds of the minority group in the West African nation, according to a report from Human Rights Watch. (AP Photo/Muhammed Giginyu)

The Kaduna State High court presided by Justice Esther Lolo today discharged and acquitted members of the Islamic Movement standing trial for protest in Kaduna following the brutal Zaria massacre of December 2015.

Delivering judgement in the “no case” submission put in by the defense lawyers in the matter, Justice Lolo absolved them of all the five-count charges brought against them. In upholding the no case submission, Justice Esther Lolo ruled in favor of the 10 members of the Islamic Movement who were arraigned before her in 2016 for the alleged offences of Criminal Conspiracy, Unlawful Assembly, Rioting, Disturbance of Public Peace and Causing Grievous Hurt.

At the last sitting of the court, when the matter came up in July 2017 after all the prosecution witnesses had testified and the prosecution had closed its case, Mr. Maxwell Kyon Esq. who led Ummishetu Shehu Esq. and Martins Joseph Esq. addressed the Court on a no case submission wherein he urged the Court to find that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the defendants requiring them to enter a defence in the matter. According to him, the prosecution had failed to prove the essential ingredients of the offences alleged to have been committed. He urged the court to discharge the accused persons and acquit them of the offences for which they were standing trial.

Mr. Isiaka Abdullahi Deputy Director of Public Prosecution in his response urged the Court to find that at this stage of the trial all the court was called upon to do was to decide whether or not a prima facie case had been made out against the defendants for which they would be required to enter their defence.

He argued that the Prosecution through the witnesses it called had established a prima facie case against the defendants. He hence prayed the court to discountenance the no case submission made on defendants’ behalf and call upon the defendants to enter their defence.

In the ruling delivered by her lordship, Justice Esther Lolo on the 9th of November 2017, the trial judge upheld the no case submission argued by Mr. Kyon for the defendants and discharged and acquitted the defendants in respect of all the offences for which they stood trial.

Her lordship held that the entire evidence of the Prosecution was not direct as it failed to point to any of the defendants as being one of the perpetrators of any of the offences for which the defendants stood trial.

By this judgement, the defendants are not only free men but have been absolved of any culpability in the commission of any of the offences for which they stood trial.

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