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Kaduna to appeal High Court’s judgement on freed Shiites

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The Kaduna State government has said it will appeal the judgement that set free the 91 Shiites who were charged for culpable homicide and complicity over the bloody Zaria clash between soldiers and members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in December, 2015.

The freed 91 Shiites were the second batch of accused persons discharged and acquitted from the culpable homicide charges levelled against them by the state government over the clash.

A statement issued by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Aisha Dikko at the weekend, said, “After calling 36 witnesses and tendering 106 exhibits, the prosecution is surprised that the court concluded that a legally admissible case had not been made.

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“The state is dissatisfied with the ruling of the court which is, in our view, erroneous in law, perverse and cannot be supported, having regards to the evidence laid before the court by the prosecution.”

The state added that based on its conviction and the preponderance of the evidence, it would appeal the case.

“As such, the state will be lodging an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Kaduna, as soon as the full text of the ruling of the high court and other records are compiled,’’ the Attorney General said.

The statement recalled that “the case, in the Charge Number KDH/KAD/40C/2016, began as a fallout of the events that began in Zaria from December 12, 2015, when members of a now proscribed group attempted to prevent the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff from passing through a public highway.

“After the clashes, 90 of those arrested at the scene were handed over to the police. At the conclusion of investigation, a five-count charge of criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disturbance of public peace and wrongful restraint, under Sections 97, 221, 102, 106 and 256 of the Penal Code, was preferred against them. The matter was assigned to Hon. Justice H.T.D Gwadah of the Kaduna State High Court for trial,’’ the commissioner said.

According to the commissioner, witnesses included senior military officers who were with the Chief of Army Staff at the scene of the crime; senior police officers, a consultant pathologist, ballisticians and victims of the crime.’’

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Also, the commissioner explained that 106 exhibits were tendered by the prosecution during the trial, and at the close of the prosecution case, the defence team made a no-case submission, arguing that the prosecution had no convincing case and evidence to warrant that the accused persons should defend themselves.

The attorney-general, therefore, said, “It is a matter of utmost surprise that in its ruling today, 21st February 2020, the court held that the evidence the prosecution led is not legally admissible and discharged the defendants.

“This is notwithstanding the fact that senior military officers and senior police officers testified, and that exhibits were tendered and legally admitted by the court. Obeisance to the rule of law compels us to challenge this conclusion at the Court of Appeal,’’ she added.

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