The Last time he will hold a woman: Mr. Edmund Ebiware, one of the Independence Day Bomber, embraced by his wife after he was sentenced to Life with an option of Parole after 32 years of good character by the Federal High Court of Abuja. PHOTO; SUNDAY AGHAEZE.
By Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and John Shiklam
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday sentenced Edmund Ebiware, one of the four suspects standing trial for their involvement in the October 1, 2010, twin bombing which occurred at the Eagle Square in Abuja to life imprisonment.
The is coming few days after a South African court also sentenced the mastermind of the bomb blast, Henry Okah, to life imprisonment.
But the trial of a man suspected to have taken part in a coordinated bombing of THISDAY Newspapers' office in Abuja, The Moment and The Sun newspapers offices both in Kaduna, last April, could not go as scheduled due to the absence of the trial judge, Justice Adeniyi Ademola.
Ebiware was initially arraigned alongside three others, Charles Okah, Obi Nwabueze and Tiemkefa Osuvwo who eventually died in Kuje Prison in the course of the trial.
The court had earlier granted Ebiware's request that he be separately charged and tried on the ground that his own offence was different from the three others.
The suspects were accused of waging war against the state in order to intimidate President Goodluck Jonathan, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 37(1) of the Criminal Code, Cap 77 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 1990.
They are also accused of terrorism and conspiracy to commit treason, contrary to Section 40 (2) of the Criminal Code CAP 77, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 1990.
Ebiware was specifically accused of withholding information on the planned attack by not using reasonable means to leak the information to the President and peace officer to foil the planned attack.
Delivering judgement on Friday, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that with all the evidence brought by the prosecuting counsel, it was evident that the convict had been communicating with Henry Okah which he did not deny while he was being cross examined.
Justice Kolawole also held that it was established from all the evidence before him that the convict had a fore knowledge of the impending blast going by the communication which had existed between him and Henry.
The court therefore held that the convict was guilty having acted contrary to Section 40(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act which requires anyone in possession of such information to take a step to inform a peace officer.
Justice Kolawole said: "The prosecution has successfully proved beyond doubt the three count charge filed against the accused. The accused is found guilty as charged."
Counsel to the convict, Godwin Uche, raised a plea of allocutos.
A plea of allocutos is an act invoked by lawyers urging the court to see reasons why its sentence should be lenient.
In his plea, Uche told the court that the convict was a young man still in his early thirties, with a wife and two children who are depending on him. The lawyer added that the convict did not have any record of crime.
Pronouncing the sentence, Justice Kolawole stated: "In the light of all I have said and in regards to Section 40(b) of the Criminal Procedure Act, I doubt if I have the discretion in pronouncing anything less than what the National Assembly has provided for which is life imprisonment. The convict is hereby sentenced to life imprisonment.
"The convict, subject to report of good conduct by the superintendent of prison shall after 32 years take such evidence to the Council on Prerogative of Mercy for a parole."
Reacting to the judgement, counsel to the convict told journalists that he would appeal as soon as he gets a copy of the judgement.
A mild drama ensued when the convict was brought out of the court by men of the prison services as he suddenly grew violent when he was prevented from talking to the press.
The incident resulted in a fight between his family members and the prison officials.
It took the intervention of the mobile police and men of the State Security Service to calm the tension within the premises of the court.
The convict was eventually driven out of the court premises at about 2.45pm in a convoy of the prison and mobile police vehicle.
Ebiware was first arraigned in 2010.
Mustapha Umar, the suspect in the THISDAY blast, is facing a one-count charge of engaging in terrorist-related act.
He is alleged to have driven a white Honda Academy car with registration number AL 306 MKA with improvised explosives devices into the premises of SOJ plaza in Kaduna and detonated same.
Over 10 persons were reportedly killed as a result of the attack.
The arraignment has now been slated for Tuesday, January 29.
Also, security operatives Friday in Rigassa, Kaduna, demolished a building said to be a clandestine facility for making bombs.
Several weapons and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) components were recovered during the operation carried out by a combined team of heavily armed soldiers, the police and operatives of the State Security Services who swarmed the area at about 11.00am.
Some of the weapons recovered include five Mark4 Rifles, three pump action rifles, 20 rolls of detonating cords, 21 nine-volt batteries, two remote control switches and other IED-making materials.
"I can confirm to you that it is a Joint operation in which weapons and IEDs materials where discovered," assistant director of Army Public Relations Department, Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, said.
“We have discovered things and in line with our resolve we have demolished the building, because we discovered a lot of weapons and IEDs-making equipment.”