Eight Christians are facing accusations of being members of the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist group by Nigerian police are languishing in jail as a result of the resignation of a judge in an Abuja court because of allegations of corruption.
The eight Christians – Abimael Ibrahim, Isah Kano, Yambali Umaru, Danga Wilfred, Jimmy Oba’a, Micheal Manu, Mark Iliya, and Sadiq Ali Amatiga – have been in detention for six years awaiting trial. Wilfred and Kano were staffs of Ashaka Cement Company, Ashaka, Gombe State. Umaru was a carpenter with an Abuja-based construction firm, Vita Construction Company, while Amatiga has his own haulage company.
Reports say Abimael Ibrahim, a Christian, stole a motorcycle from a police station after it had been attacked and burnt by Boko Haram in Gombe, north eastern Nigeria, in which also a police officer was killed. Some days later members of Ibrahim’s family advised him to return the motorcycle.
In good conscience, and since the police station has been destroyed, Ibrahim went to another police station to report himself. He met Oba’a, a Police Corporal on duty and gave his statement. But another police officer noted that the motorcycle belonged to the officers killed during the attack. Ibrahim was immediately arrested and charged with membership of the banned group Boko Haram.
Ibrahim was subsequently transferred to Abuja, where he was tortured, shot in the legs and threatened with death if he did not name other members. according to reports.
Under extreme duress he is reported to have given a list of his friends including the police officer who was on duty when he went to return the motor bike to the Police.
It was discovered later that the actual owner of the motorcycle was a security man in the home of the Divisional Police Officer killed in the attack, and not the police officer himself.
Before his resignation, Justice Ademola had expressed his disappointed with the prosecution bringing a limp case and lamented a police system that detained eight men in various places even before bringing them to Kuje Prisons.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos.
Image Credits: Google images/Boko Haram propaganda video/Justice Ademola