A Federal High Court sitting in Bauchi, Thursday, charged seven persons with terrorist acts and theft.
They have been accused of killing four people in raids on banks and a police station as part of an Islamist insurgency in the north of the country, police said.
They are also accused of robbing some banks in the state in 2011 for the purpose of raising funds to boost the operations of Boko Haram.
The accused persons, Usman Sani, Abdulrahman Musa, Mahmud Mohammed, Kabir Mohammed, Umar Danjuma, Ibrahim Musa Abba and Abdullahi Lawan, were arraigned on a 13-count charge at the court presided over by Justice A.R Mohammed.
The accused stole 17.8 million naira from a Union Bank branch and a combined 36.4 million naira from branches of Intercontinental Bank and GT Bank in the town of Azare in Bauchi state, police said. The total amount is about N54 million.
According to the charges against the accused, they allegedly, on 18th July, 2011 and 4th December, 2011, at Alkaleri town in Bauchi State, with intent to raise funds and support Boko Haram’s terrorists activities, armed themselves with dangerous assorted weapons, improvised explosive devices, and robbed Unity Bank of Nigeria Plc., Alkaleri branch in the state, carting away the sum of N17.8 million, an offence of rendering support for terrorism contrary to section 4(1)(a) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 and punishable under section 4(2) of the Act.
Four people, including three police officers, were killed in the raids, state prosecutors told the Federal High Court. The suspects didn’t enter a plea because they had no legal representation. The case was adjourned until April 10.
Nigeria’s national assembly this week prescribed the death penalty for anyone found guilty on terrorism charges.
Boko Haram’s main target is the security forces but it also robs banks to fund its operations. The insurgency has led to a general increase in lawlessness and gangs often carry out crimes knowing Boko Haram will take the blame.
There are also signs the groups are linking up with extremists outside the country, including al Qaeda’s African wing.