Convicted Boko Haram kingpin, Sokoto, begs for presidential pardon

Kabiru Sokoto

Kabiru Sokoto
Kabiru Sokoto

A member of Boko Haram sect already convicted of terrorism charges, Kabiru Umar (aka Kabiru Sokoto), has appealed to President Goodluck Jonathan for pardon.

The convict has appealed against the judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which sentenced him to life imprisonment on December 20, 2013.

But he told the President through a letter written on his behalf by his lawyer, Sheriff Okoh, that he was innocent of the offences he was convicted of.

Umar was jailed for being part of the mastermind of the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Mandala, Niger State.

His letter dated December 23, 2013, appealing for presidential pardon was obtained by our correspondent on Tuesday.

In his letter, Okoh faulted the process leading to his client’s conviction, and assured that Umar had offered to help government to solve the Boko Haram crisis in the country.

He insisted that Umar was innocent of the charges he was convicted of.

The appeal letter reads in part, “Your Excellency sir, an innocent man was convicted by the court on the date aforementioned. It is for this singular reason that we are applying to you for presidential pardon in the circumstance pursuant to your exclusive legitimate constitutional powers as enshrined in your golden conscience and under Section 175(a) and (b) of the Constitution.

“Your Excellency sir, we are applying for respite and pardon for the convicted felon Kabiru Umar (alias Kabiru Sokoto) because we have absolute faith in your compassion and highest sense of fairness, equity and justice first as a God-fearing man and next, as the leader of the most compassionate nation on earth.

“Had Kabiru Sokoto been sentenced in open court for the corporate acts of Boko Haram as a terrorist organsiation, we would not have spared a thought to make this application, but he was sentenced alone for acts committed by other members of Boko Haram (an organisation that was only proscribed after his arrest, detention and the making of his no-case submission before the Federal High Court, Abuja Division).”

The convict also offered to help to resolve the Boko Haram crisis if his request for a pardon is granted by the President, adding that the President had the power to “right the wrong” against any Nigerian citizen.

His letter further reads, “Your excellency, we vow to reach out beyond the imagination and work with you in resolving the Boko Haram imbroglio, with the firm belief that no quarrel of brotherhood is eternal. We shall undertake this national task for the pleasure of God Almighty, believing in His divine will for our peaceful, united, symbiotic and mutual coexistence as brothers and sisters under a fair and just leader.

“We most honestly and sincerely urge you to exercise your prerogative of mercy and grant pardon or respite in this matter in the interest of justice. The law permits you to right each and every wrong in Nigeria, including those of the courts and this is one good situation where such powers under Section 175 of our grundnorm serve the collective interest of our beloved nation towards peace and harmony.”

Umar was convicted of two counts of terrorism charges by a Federal High Court in Abuja on December 20, 2013 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The court found him guilty of facilitating terrorism acts and concealing information from security agencies on the December 25, 2011 bombing of St Theresa’s Catholic Church, Mandala, Niger State.

In his notice of appeal dated January 17, 2014, which he filed before the Court of Appeal in Abuja, the convict faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, which it said occasioned a miscarriage of justice against him.

He asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the lower court.

He anchored his appeal on five grounds of appeal, including a contention that the trial judge erred in law when he resolved all the doubts, with respect to improper investigation of the case, in favour of the prosecution.