The police on Wednesday arraigned 60 Shiite Muslims who are members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, on charges of culpable homicide, destruction of public property and constituting public disturbance.
The defendants, who were arrested in the aftermath of the their July 22, 2019 protest in Abuja, were arraigned before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
They pleaded not guilty to the charges, which were read in English and interpreted to them in Hausa language.
A Deputy Commissioner of Police, Usman Umar, and one National Youth Service Corps member, Precious Owolabi, who was serving with Channels Television, had died in the violence that erupted during the clash between the police and the Shiites during the July 22, 2019 protest.
Following the not-guilty plea of the defendants, the counsel prosecuting for the police, Simon Lough, urged the court to remand them in the Kuje Prison.
He noted that the defendants had been in the custody of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Police Force in Abuja since their arrest in June.
Lough applied to the court to move its sitting to Kuje Prison due to the potential logistical challenges of transporting the 60 defendants to court for trial.
The defence counsel, Bala Dakum, did not oppose the prosecutor’s request.
He, however, informed the court of his intention to move the bail application he filed on behalf of the defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Sulaiman Belgore, ordered that the defendants should be remanded in SARS custody till December 10 which he fixed for the hearing of the defendants’ bail application.