From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Detained Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, has told a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja how he scurried for cover like rats during the terrorist attack at the Kuje Correctional Center, Abuja where he is currently being held.
Kyari and other members of his IRT team that are also on trial, are: ACP Sunday J. Ubia, Insp. Simon Agirigba, Insp. John Nuhu, and ASP Bawa James are standing trial for drug trafficking charge.
Giving a graphic picture of what transpired on the night of July 5, when insurgents attacked the facility, Kyari told the court through his lead counsel, Dr. Ikpeazu SAN, how he hide himself like a rat.
The mid-night attack led to the escape of about 879 inmates, including all 68 imprisoned Boko Haram members.
He narrated the terrorists had, after seizing the facility for over three hours, opened all the gates and forced inmates to escape.
The suspended super cop however said he declined to run away, along with four other members of the Police Intelligence Response Team, IRT, that were also remanded with him.
Ikpeazu submitted that the prison attack established “a special and exceptional circumstance” that should warrant the court to release him and his men on bail, pending the determination of the case against him.
“My lord, every living soul in this country will agree that there was not just a breach, but that there was a grand terrorist attack by an organization that not only successfully invaded the Kuje Prison, but took control of it for over three hours.
However, the applicant, being a law-abiding citizen, refused to take off.
“If there is any thing to establish that the defendants will not jump bail, it was that circumstance.
“The gates of the prison were left open for over three hours.
“Infact, the Defendant hid like a rat, because the organization that conducted the attack went from cell to cell, saying they want to take him and the others to the desert.
“I don’t know where else in the world, where certified crime fighters that have endangered their lives and abandoned their families to serve the country, are kept in the same cubicle, with same criminals they made their arrest possible, with some of them facing death penalty.
“These people have suffered. They are traumatised by the events of that night. You can imagine what it felt like, witnessing the attackers planting explosives everywhere in the prison.”
Pressing further, Ikpeazu argued that the defendants, having been suspended by the police and in detention for over five months, do not have the capacity to interfere with witnesses the NDLEA intend to produce against them.
“They cannot even have access to the two convicts that are presently under the protection of the powerful prison service.
“Moreover, there is constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the defendants,” Ikpeazu added.
He consequently urged the court to ignore the argument of the anti-narcotics agency that his client and his men are being investigated over their alleged complicity in money laundering.
In a similar manner, counsel to the 2nd defendant, Gboyega Oyewole(SAN),
noted that the NDLEA had in a counter-affidavit it filed in opposition to the fresh request for bail of the detained police officers, averred that; “hoodlums who undertook the breach, seized the prison facility for over three hours, but to the glory of God, no one died.”
He accused the agency of lying, noting that a security operative was killed during the attack.
He equally argued that NDLEA’s counter-affidavit was grossly unreliable as it was not deposed to by a prison official.
But responding, the prosecution counsel, Sunday Joseph, Director of Legal Services of the NDLEA, urged the court to refuse the Defendants’ fresh request for bail.
He insisted that no evidence to prove that Kyari and his men are being confined with criminals, adding however that under the rule of law, no inmate ought to be accorded any preferential treatment.
Joseph further argued that nothing was placed before the court to warrant the reconsideration of earlier ruling of the court that denied the defendants bail.
“We therefore urge your lordship to refuse the application,”he added.
Meanwhile, trial Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned ruling on the Defendants’ fresh application for bail till August 30.