The State Security Service (SSS) has filed five terrorism charges against two associates of Yoruba nation agitator, Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Jamiu Oyetunji and Amudat Babatunde were accused of committing acts of terrorism, including being in possession of prohibited firearms, and over 1,500 rounds of ammunition without lawful authority.
The secret police also accused them of involving in activities “in preparation to commit acts of terrorism”.
In the fifth count which concerns only Ms Babatunde, SSS alleged that she used her Facebook account “as a platform to promote terrorist activities”.
The details of the acts of terrorism or terrorist activities were not provided in the charges.
Their lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, described the charges as “baseless, vexatious, shameful and without limbs”.
The charges filed on September 1, 2021, came two months after the two defendants were arrested along with 10 other associates of Mr Adeyemo in an early morning raid on his home in Ibadan, Oyo State, on July 1.
All the 12 were illegally detained without charge for 61 days, in defiance of a court order granting them bail, before eight of them were released on August 29.
SSS, a government’s secret service notorious for little regard for court orders, subsequently released two others – Tajudeen Oyinloye and Uthman Adelabu – on September 3.
The eight detainees earlier released by the agency are: Abideen Shittu, Abdullateef Onaolapo, Ayobami Donald, Olakunle Oluwapelumi, Dikeola Ademola, Bamidele Sunday, Raji Kazeem, and Taiwo Tajudeen.
Mr Oyetunji and Ms Babatunde have remained in detention after the 10 other defendants were released.
Although filed on September 1, the charges against the two remaining detainees were only served on the defence on Wednesday, a period of a week after the filing, their lawyer told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Olajengbesi also confirmed that the case has yet to be assigned to a judge and no date has been fixed for arraignment.
Charges in detail
All the five counts in the newly filed case border on terrorism.
The case marked FHC/ABJ/CR/305/2021 was filed on behalf of two SSS’ lawyers – S.M Bello and M. I Bennett, who accused the defendants of violating various provisions of the Terrrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013 and Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention e.t.c.) Act, 2015.
In the first count, the prosecution alleged that Mr Oyetunji, Ms Babatunde “with others still at large”, on July 1, at the residence of Sunday Igboho in Soka area of Ibadan, Oyo State “did conspire to commits acts of terrorism, to wits possession of prohibited firearms: contrary to Section 17 of Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 and punishable under the same section of the Act.”
It similarly alleged in the second count that both defendants “did have in your possession, without lawful authority, the under-listed prohibited fire arms” in violation of “section 1(3)(c)(v) of the Terrorism Prevention Act CAP 10, 2011 and punishable under Section 1(2) of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013”.
The prohibited arms which the defendants were allegedly caught with include five (5) AK 47 rifles with serial numbers 04956, 213740, 8673, 945999 and 6139 respectively.
Also listed among them are two (2) AK 47 rifles with unidentifiable serial numbers; two (2) pump action rifles with serial numbers 8836 and 9398 respectively.
The rest are one (1) pump-action with unidentifiable serial number, and one (1) stun gun.
In the third count, the prosecution also accused the two defendants of in possession of 1,295 live rounds of 7.62mm ammunition and 221 live rounds of 5.56mm ammunition without lawful authority.
The act, according to the prosecution is contrary to Section 1(3)(c)(v) of the Terrorism Prevention Act CAP 10, 2011 and punishable under Section 1(2) of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) act 2013.
The fourth court alleged that the two defendants “involved yourselves in activities in preparation to commit acts of Terrorism contrary to Section 21 of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act 2013 and punishable under the same Section of the Act”.
Ms Babatunde, the only named defendant in the fifth count, was accused of using her Facebook account at Okeare area of Ibadan, Oyo State “as a platform to promote terrorist activities contrary to Section 18(1 & 2) of the Cybercrimes Prohibition Prevention) Act, 2015.”
Almost three weeks after the futile attempt to arrest him during the July 1 raid on his home, Sunday Igboho was apprehended in the Republic of Benin while trying to board a Germany-bound flight with his wife on July 19.
While his wife has been released, he is still being held in custody in the neighbouring country, facing proceedings.
The charges are bound to heighten concerns about the Nigerian government’s inconsistencies in the depiction of terrorism in the country.
The government has failed to declare the activities of criminals, referred to as bandits, causing mayhem and mass kidnapping for ransom in the North-west and North-central region of the country as terrorism.
Many have also suggested that the activities of criminal herders involved in violent activities such as kidnapping in different parts of the country should be declared as terrorism
Some have also attributed the escalation of these crimes in different parts of the country to the unevenness of government’s handling of the criminals by being soft with the criminal herders while always rushing to declare other groups linked with violence terrorist organisations.