Rifkatu Sha, a judge of a Jos high court on Tuesday warned an accused person, Tasiu Mohammed, 21, against threatening witnesses testifying against him.
The warning came when Mohammed was caught making gestures indicating that he would slash the throats of the witnesses, while they stood in the dock.
The police, witnesses and officials of the court, who noticed the threats, immediately alerted the judge, who warned Mohammed against such contempt.
“You are only lucky that the prosecuting counsel did not pray the court to convict you (accused) for contempt, otherwise I would have descended on you,” she said.
“I will only warn you to desist from threatening witnesses in the court. If you repeat it, I will start by sentencing you to 14 strokes of the cane.”
Mohammed, along with two others – Saidu Mohammed, 19, and Umar Shehu 23 – were first arraigned on February 13, charged with criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide, robbery and possession of firearms.
The police prosecutor, O. S. Osho of the State Criminal Investigation Department, at the arraignment, told the court that the accused persons committed the crime on September 23, 2016 at Clark Quarters, Bukuru in Jos.
Osho quoted the accused persons as telling the police, in a confessional statement, that they killed a man, who approached them for help.
“The accused persons confessed that the deceased, who came into Jos at about 7pm on the said date, approached them to direct him to where he could lodge, before proceeding on his journey the next day,” Osho said.
“The accused persons said that they promised to help, but on realising that the stranger had money on him, they misled him to an uncompleted building where they killed him.
“They further said that after killing him, they dumped his body in a well in the uncompleted building, and made away with his money.”
Osho quoted the accused as saying that luck, however, ran out on them when a woman, who resides in the quarters, heard screams emanating from the building, and rushed to check.
“The accused persons also told the police that they ran out of the building on sighting the woman, but that she went in and saw blood everywhere.
“The curious woman checked further and saw the corpse of the unknown man dumped in a well in the building.”
The prosecutor said the woman raised an alarm and reported the matter to the community head.
Osho told the court that the woman recognised the accused persons, while they were fleeing from the scene, as the same boys that had been terrorising the community over time.
The prosecutor, however, said that the identity of the deceased was still unknown as no form of identification was found on him, while the corpse had not been claimed by anyone.
During the arraignment, however, the prosecutor also alleged that the first accused, Tasiu Mohammed, had committed the same crime sometime in 2014, when he was 18 years old.
Osho said Mohammed was then tried as a juvenile, found guilty and convicted for murder.
He said Mohammed, however, escaped from the juvenile home after some months and relocated to Abuja and had only relocated back to Jos, when he committed the same crime and was arrested.
The prosecutor added that the accused persons’ action contravened the provision of section 221 of the Penal Code and was punishable with death, on conviction.