Miyetti Allah members protest as FG charges leader with terrorism

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
Bello Bodejo

The Federal Government has filed a charge bordering on terrorism, against the  President of the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Bodejo.

Bodejo has been in the custody of the Defence Intelligence Agency since his arrest on January 23.

The Miyetti Allah leader was arrested in Nasarawa State days after the organisation launched a vigilante group named, Kungiya Zaman Lafiya.

At the inauguration of the 1,144-man Fulani outfit on January 17, 2024, Bodejo said the move was to tackle banditry, cattle rustling, and all forms of insecurity in Nasarawa State.

Following his arrest, the Miyetti Allah leader filed a fundamental rights suit before the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge his prolonged detention.

In response, the Attorney General of the Federation,  Lateef Fagbemi (SAN),  filed a motion ex parte,  seeking to remand Bodejo pending the conclusion of the investigation and arraignment in court.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who is hearing Bodejo’s suit, granted the Federal Government permission to detain him for 15 days in the custody of the Defence Intelligence Agency.

Subsequently, the judge ordered the Federal Government to either file charges against the Miyetti Allah leader or release him.

At the resumed proceedings on Wednesday, the judge asked the counsel for the prosecution, Y.A. Imana, if charges had been filed against Bodejo.

“The court made an order that you should charge the defendant before a court of competent jurisdiction. Where is the evidence that you filed before this court?” The judge demanded.

In response, the lawyer told the judge, “It was filed yesterday.”

The judge, however, said the charge was not before him.

Our correspondent also observed that the DIA did not bring Bodejo to court.

However,  in the charge sheet sighted by the correspondent,  the Federal Government accused Bodejo of establishing an ethnic militia group without authorisation.

The Federal Government stated that Bodejo’s action was “prejudicial to national security and public safety and punishable under Section 29 of the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022.”

Bodejo’s lawyer,  Mohammed Sheriff, subsequently urged the court to hear his bail application pending his client’s arraignment.

The prosecution counsel, however, opposed the prayer for bail.

“We pray this court will dismiss the application of the defendant because it is a matter that touches on national security,” the Federal Government’s lawyer said.

Justice Ekwo adjourned till March 22 for a ruling on Bodejo’s bail application.

Meanwhile,  some members of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore,  in their numbers, stormed the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, to demand Bodejo’s unconditional.

They held a big banner bearing a large picture of Bodejo and the inscription “Free Bello Bodejo”. Others, mostly women, lined along the road with placards in hand.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Kabir Matazu decried the DIA’s disobedience to court orders directing that Bodejo be tried or released.

He said, “We are in a democratic society, and in a democratic society, respect for the rule of law is the building block for democracy to thrive.  You cannot arbitrarily arrest and detain an individual without a charge against him.

“That’s why we have gathered our members from across the country to come here to agitate and also make our voice heard  that the Nigerian security agencies should, without further delay, free and release him unconditionally.”

Matazu lamented that Bodejo’s family and friends had yet to see him since he was arrested.

“It is sad that up till now, his family members were not granted access to see him. He is not a criminal. He has no criminal record. He will not run away and leave this country. So, if not because of the failure of our security agencies, there are bandits in the forest who they should have gone after.”

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