The lecturer(left) and other suspects being paraded by the State Security Service in Abuja…. on Wednesday
An Abuja Federal High Court on Monday gave the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to file charges against six suspected members of the Boko Haram sect, arrested by the State Security Service last October.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole said he would set free the suspects, who have been in the custody of the SSS since October 2013, if the Federal Government failed to file charges against them before the January 23 next date of hearing.
Among the six is an Assistant Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Kogi State University, Dr. Nazeef Yunus.
Yunus was alleged to be the spiritual leader and coordinator of the Boko Haram cell in Kogi State.
The others are Umar Musa (aka Abubakar), Mustapha Yusuf (aka Habib), Ismaila Abdulazeez, Ibrahim Isa Hayafu and Salami Abdullahi.
The SSS had on November 25, 2013, obtained an order of the court, which permitted it to detain Yunus and the others for 45 days to enable it conclude investigations into the suspects’ terrorist activities in Kogi State.
Following the expiration of the 45-day detention order, the SSS approached the court on Monday, asking for an extension.
The security agency informed the court that investigations had been concluded and that the case file had been sent to the Attorney-General of the Federation.
But the suspects also filed an application, asking the court to order the SSS to immediately arraign them, or grant them bail pending arraignment.
Justice Kolawole noted that there was no basis to continue holding the suspects without charging them to court.
He therefore ordered the Federal Government to file charges against the suspects within seven days, or risk their discharge.
The judge adjourned the matter to January 23.
The SSS had accused the suspects of planning to carry out attacks in parts of Kogi State before they were arrested at a mosque in Zuba, a town near Abuja, while on their way to Zambisa in Maiduguri for training.
The security agency said the suspects planned to install Sharia in Kogi State.
Yunus denied the allegations.
In an affidavit deposed before the court, one Musa Shuaib, Yunus’s son-in-law, insisted that the lecturer was innocent.
Shuaib claimed that he was initially arrested alongside Yunus in his (Yunus’s) residence in Jos, Plateau State, on October 30, 2013, contrary to the claim of the SSS that they were arrested on their way to Maiduguri.
Shuaib described Yunus as a “highly respected Islamic scholar who has been consistent in his blunt preaching against the activities of Boko Haram sect, both in the public and in his writings as a scholar.”