Three convicts: Ali Mohammed, Adamu Karumi and Ibrahim Usman were on Tuesday collectively jailed 75 years by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State, western Nigeria for participating in acts of terrorism and being members of the dreaded Islamic-sect known as Boko Haram.
The trio are among the 17 suspected insurgents arraigned before Justice Ibrahim Buba on eight counts charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism, illegal possession of firearms and being members of the violent sect.
Arraigned along with them but discharged before the conclusion of the trial were Bala Haruna, Idris Ali, Mohammed Murtala, Kadiri Mohammed, Mustapha Daura, Abba Duguri and Sanni Adamu.
Others were Danjuma Yahaya, Musa Audu, Mati Daura, Farouk Haruna, Abdullahi Azeez, Ibrahim Bukar and Zula Diani.
Efforts to find out the reason for their discharge yielded no result because the trial had since it started in November 2013 and ended on Tuesday was in secret.
It was gathered that the Attorney-General of Lagos State and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, had, by nolle prosequi, discontinued criminal proceedings against some of the accused, hence their being left of the hook .
On Tuesday only Muhammed, Karumi, Usman and Haruna were brought before Justice Buba for judgment.
The judgment was also delivered in camera but a source who witnessed the proceedings later gave a clearer picture but on a condition of anonymity.
He said that before delivering the judgment, Justice Buba ordered journalists, litigants and lawyers in other matters to vacate the courtroom.
The judge, who had earlier announced that the judgment would be given at 12pm, first sought the views of the lawyers on the position of the law on giving the verdict in the open court or in camera.
The Lagos State Director of the Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Idowu Alakija, according to the source, had responded by saying that since the trial was conducted in camera for security reasons, judgment should also be given in the same manner.
But Buba, who said that even judges learn every day, insisted that he would like to know what the law stipulates about giving judgment in camera and how his colleagues in Abuja normally handle such cases.
Justice Buba noted that he would like to do a short research on the subject; he rose at about 11.30am with a promise to return by 12pm.
At the resumed hearing at 12pm, the judge again asked the parties to address him on the legality of giving judgment in camera.
Ipaye responded by saying that if the trial was conducted in secret, the judgment should also be delivered in secret.
The legal team of the defence maintained the same position.
Justice Buba subsequently ordered everyone, except the parties and the security operatives, to vacate the courtroom.
Journalists had approached the Deputy Chief Registrar, DCR and the Administrative Head of the Court, Mr. Bello Okandeji, to complain of their being barred from hearing the verdict.
Okandeji then led journalists to the court but security men told the DCR that they had specific instructions not to allow anyone in.
Mohammed, Karumi and Usman were tried on offences bordering on terrorism said to have been committed on 21 March, at Plot 5, Road 69, Lekki Phase I Housing Estate, and No. 24, Oyegbeni St., Ijora-Oloye, Apapa-Iganmu, Lagos State.
They were said to have been caught in possession of three packets of explosive construction pipes, 15 detonators, and 11 AK47 rifles with 30 rounds of live ammunition.
The other items said to have been found in their possession were 200 rounds of 7.6 milimetres of live ammunition, two suitcases containing explosives, and a water container filled with explosives.
According to the prosecution, the offences contravened the provisions of Sections 13(2) and 17(b) of the Terrorism Act 2013 as well as Sections 1, 8, 27 (1) (a) and (b) of the Firearms (special provisions) Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation, 2004.