Operatives of the Department of State Security Service (SSS) on Thursday barred journalists from covering the arraignment of 17 suspected Boko Haram members charged before a Federal High Court, Lagos.
Other litigants who had matters at the court were equally barred from entering.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the armed security men threatened to arrest any journalist who flouted their order.
A security operative, who did not want his name published because he did not have the authority to speak to the media, said that the directive to bar journalists from covering the case was from above.
However, the arraignment of the suspected insurgents was stalled because five of them lacked legal representation.
NAN reports that the arraignment of the suspected Boko Haram members had had to be postponed on two other occasions due to the absence of a Hausa language interpreter and the trial judge.
The case first came up on Oct. 2, and the defendants again appeared in court on Oct. 9, but could not be arraigned.
Justice Musa Kurya, the trial judge, adjourned the case again till Nov. 27, for the arraignment of the accused because of the absence of a legal representative for five of them.
Those without legal representative are — Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi, Ibrahim Usman, Bala Haruna and Idris Ali.
Others also charged are — Mohammed Murtala, Kadiri Mohammed, Mustapha Daura, Abba Duguri, Sanni Adamu, Danjuma Yahaya, and Musa Audu, Mati Daura, Farouk Haruna, Abdullahi Azeez, Ibrahim Bukar and Zula Diani.
The accused are facing trial on 18-count charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism, illegal possession of firearms, and being members of a proscribed organisation.
According to the charge sheet, the 17 accused are alleged to have committed the offences on March 21, at Plot 5, Road 69, Lekki Phase I Housing Estate, and No. 24, Oyegbeni St., Ijora-Oloye, Apapa-Iganmu, Lagos.
They were alleged to have in their possession three packets of explosive construction pipes, 15 detonators, and 11 AK47 rifles with 30 rounds of live ammunitions.
Other items also alleged to have been found in their possession include 200 rounds of 7.6 mm live ammunition, two suit cases containing explosives, and a water container filled with explosives.
The offences committed contravened provisions of Sections 13(2) and 17(b) of the Terrorism Act 2013.
It also contravenes Sections 1, 8, 27 (1) (a) and (b) of the Firearms (special provisions) Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation, 2004, and punishable under Section 8 of the same act. (NAN).
Posted by SirVic for wetopup(News Laboratry)