*. FG wants secret trial for suspect *. Lists 8 witnesses to give evidence against him *. Sokoto pleads not guilty, seeks bail A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday issued an order remanding Mr. Kabiru Sokoto, the suspected operation arrow-head of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram, in Kuje prisons. That was moment after the federal government arraigned Sokoto before the court over alleged questionable roles he was said to have played in the bombing of St Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State and a couple of attempts to bomb police headquarters and other governmentalinstitutions in Sokoto State. The bomb attack on the St Theresa Catholic Church in Mandalla, Niger State took place at the early hours of December 25, 2011, which killed no fewer than 24 worshippers. The trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who had rejected a request by Sokoto to orally apply for his bail, however orderedthat he should be given access to his lawyers and nuclear family. He also gave Sokoto seven days to respond to the charge made against him by the federal government even as hepromised to give the matter an accelerated hearing. Clad in a brown jalabia and bathroom slippers, Sokoto was brought to the court under a heavy security in a Peugeot 406 with registration number Abuja, BR 867 RSH. Sokoto was docked yesterday at exactly 9:15am in the presence of his wife and two children, one of them walking around the court room innocently. There were more operatives of the State Security Service in court than lawyers, journalists and litigants combined, yesterday. Some of them wore dark goggles while those guarding the entrance to the courtroom and the court’s environwore masks. Although camera men and photo-journalists wereallowed to take shots in the court room before the court sat, Sokoto’s wife covered her face. The federal government prosecuting him had listed names of eight persons who would give evidence against him. A couple of exhibits were also made available to the court to establish the counts pressed against him. Sokoto had, however, pleaded not guilty to the two-count charge preferred against him. The charge specifically accused him of withholding information on the plan to bomb St.Theresa’s Catholic Church,Madalla, Niger State and failure to disclose it to law enforcement officer as soon as practicable, an offence contrary to Section 7(1) and punishable under Section 33(1) ofTerrorism and Prevention Act 2011. He was also accused of supporting the act of terrorism by training 500 men and inciting them to commit a terrorist act, contrary to Section 4(1)(a) and punishable under Section 33(1)(b) of Terrorism and Prevention Act 2011. The accused allegedly facilitated the commission of terrorist act to wit: by planting and encouraging some boys (now at large) at Mabira Sokoto, in Sokoto State with the intention to bomb the police headquarters and some other government agencies in the state. The alleged offence is contrary to Section 15(2) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under the same Act. Although six lawyers led by Mr. H. A. Ibrahim announced appearance for his defence, the federal government had however hinted that it would apply for his secret trial in orderto protect the state witnesses willing to give evidence to nail the accused person for the offences. Mr. Justice Adeniyi Ademola, presiding over the case, though faulted the federal government over the plan to apply for secret trial of Sokoto on the account that it had already disclosed the names of its witnesses which it claimed it wanted to protect, he however indicated yesterday that he did not fancy trial in camera but that “when we get to the bridge, we will cross it.”

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