20 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The expected arraignment of 23 suspected illegal miners before a Jos Federal High Court, on Monday, got stalled after two of them jumped the administrative bail granted them on January 25, 2018.
The suspects, who were arrested on September 25, 2017, include 15 Chinese and 10 Nigerians. Among the suspects is Mr. Abdullahi Adamu, a former APC governorship aspirant in Bauchi state.
They were arrested over illegal mining operations in Zurak, Plateau State.
The suspects had been in detention at the office of the Nigeria Security Adviser (NSA), until they were granted administrative bail on January 25.
When the case came up for mention on Monday, the judge, Musa Kurya, expressed surprise that only 23 suspects were present in court, instead of the 25 persons on the list.
Aminu Alilu, the prosecutor, told the judge that Lawal Hassan and Abdullahi Inusa, who were listed as 4th and 9th accused persons, had jumped bail.
Mr. Alilu, who expressed surprise over the disappearance of the two suspects, apologised to the judge and urged that the matter be heard since the others were in court.
“We are left with only two options – amend the charges and continue or we apply for a short adjournment to enable us go after the absconded persons and bring them before your Lordship,” he said.
Mr. Alilu said the duo could be arraigned separately on a date convenient to the court.
Responding, Paul Erokoro, the defence counsel, who also expressed shock over the disappearance of the two accused persons, applied that names of the two absconders be struck out to enable the trial to commence.
“The two can be arraigned separately as the prosecution suggested,” he said.
The judge however, said that it would be difficult to separate the trial of the suspects since they were jointly charged.
“Trying them together is also good for the smoothness of the case,” he said.
Mr. Kurya said that he would not commit the suspects to prison custody, and ordered that the status quo be maintained till all the suspects were properly arraigned before him.
The judge then adjourned the case to March 28, 2018 for proper arraignment.