Following an allegation of bias against him by the defendants, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, has disqualified himself from the trial of eight Boko Haram suspects.
The defendants: Mohammed Usman (called Khalid Albarnawi), described as leader of a Boko Haram splinter group; Mohammed Bashir Saleh; Umar Bello (Abu Azzan); Mohammed Salisu (Datti); Yakubu Nuhu ( Bello Maishayi); Usman Abubakar (Mugiratu) and a lady, Halima Aliyu.
What the defendants asked for:
- The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants requested that their trial be transferred from Justice Tsoho to another judge.
- They also requested that they be transferred from the custody of the Department of State Services (DSS) to prisons on the ground of deteriorating health and threat to their lives at the DSS.
Why they lost confidence in Justice Tsoho: The judge had made an earlier ruling that the suspects should be held in prison custody. He however reversed himself and said they should be in the custody of the DSS. At the time he made the ruling, the defendants did not object, but on Tuesday, they argued that they no longer had confidence that they could get justice in Tsoho’s court.
The defendants were arraigned by the Federal Government over the killing of five foreigners who were abducted from a construction site in Kebbi State in 2011.