Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday fixed June1 to determine whether the statements tendered by the second defendant in the October 1, 2010, bombing were made under duress.
The defendant, Obi Nwabueze, who is facing terrorism charges alongside Charles Okah, had alleged that the statements he made during his detention by the Department of Security Services, as well as during his trial, were extracted under duress.
The duo is being tried for allegedly masterminding the bomb blast at Eagle Square, Abuja, that killed over 10 and injured many during Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration that year.
The claim had compelled the trial judge, Gabriel Kolawole, to institute a trial within trial for the defendants to prove that the statements made by the second defendant were given under duress.
Subsequently, Mr. Nwabueze and his counsel presented witnesses before the court, including his former counsel in the matter, Ogochuku Ezekiel.
Testifying as the last witness Ezekiel said although he followed the case while working in the chambers of his former principal, Festus Keyamo, till 2013, they never filed a formal complaint to draw attention to the injuries alleged to have been sustained by Mr. Nwabuze.
He, however, stated that he had made the complaint in the open court.
Responding to the submission of the witness, prosecution counsel, Alex Iziyon said the complaint made by Mr. Ezekiel, according to his records, only related to the inability of the defence counsels to access their client, adding that nothing relating to injury was mentioned.
Asked whether he had any written evidence to prove the alleged injury and torture on his client, Mr. Ezekiel cited publications of the Guardian and Vanguard Newspapers of October 22 and 23, respectively, in 2010 to support his claim.
Justice Kolawole therefore ruled that the second defendant should make his final address on the matter on or seven days from Monday, May 16.
The court also directed the prosecution to respond to the address within four days, after which the defendants would have three days within which to submit their reply before the next adjourned date of June 1.
Counsel to Mr. Okah, Otemu Ogbenovo had told the court that his client would need to go for treatment relating to his eyes and sought leave of court to have his client admitted for the said treatment.
Mr. Iziyon raised an objection stating that an application like that should first be made before the prison authorities.
The lawyer insisted that Mr. Okah could be treated within the premises of the Kuje Maximum Prison where he is currently being detained.
In his ruling, the trial judge held that the problem that affects the eye was a serious one that should be dealt with.
He called on the prison authorities to intimate him on the status of the compliant regarding Okah’s eye.
He also said Mr. Ogbenovo should keep in touch with him to determine whether the court would need to take a decision to enable Okah access his medication outside the prison.
Okah and Nwabweze have been held since December 2010 after they were accused of masterminding the October 1 bomb blasts.

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