The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) has explained why names of 10 soldiers were removed in the trial of kidnapper Bala Hamisu, also known as Wadume.
He said that the names of the soldiers were not dropped as had been reported, but merely severed from the charges in view of their unavailability, as they need to be released by the military authorities considering the fact that they were perhaps undergoing military processes before their release.
The names of military officers, who allegedly killed policemen in Taraba State last year and freed a kidnapper arrested by the policemen, were removed from the trial when the matter came up in court on Monday.
The event generated public outcry and some Nigerians accused the AGF of taking over the case from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in order to drop the names of the military personnel.
However, in a statement on Friday through his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu Malami denied that the names of the soldiers were dropped.
He said their names were removed to allow for the speedy trial of those available for trial since the military was yet to release the officers to appear in court for prosecution.
He said, “The interest of justice requires and legitimately allowed for segmenting the case in the interest of speedy trial.
“It is in the interest of justice to accord speedy trial to the accused persons that are readily available to stand trial as against delaying at the expense of other co-accused persons who in the peculiarity of this case are not available for immediate arraignment.
“It is a common practice that absence of a co-accused will not constitute impediment to the progress of a case. Those available are entitled to fair trial and have their case determined within a reasonable time as a matter of constitutional rights. More so, looking at the fact that the available accused persons are not to be held responsible for the unavailability of the co-accused persons.
“The Office of the Attorney-Genral of the Federation and Minister of Justice has taken steps to procure the availability of the co-accused and shall have them arraigned immediately upon procuring their availability by the military authorities.”