Islamist sect suspects charged with Nigeria bombings


Eight suspected members of a Nigerian Islamist sect appeared in court charged with carrying out a series of bombings and shootings between March and July this year that killed a total of 25 people.

The defendants, accused of being members of Boko Haram, all pleaded not guilty to charges which could carry a sentence of death by hanging.

The eight appeared in a magistrates court in the capital Abuja charged with bombing an electoral office in nearby Suleja in April. Court papers said 16 people were killed in the blast, Reuters reports.

Prosecutors said the defendants also killed three people in a bombing at a political rally in March, shot dead three police officers in May and killed three more in a bomb attack on a church in Suleja in July.

Chief magistrate Oyewunmi Oyebola adjourned the hearing until October 4 and ordered the suspects be remanded in custody.

Boko Haram, which wants sharia law more widely applied across Africa’s most populous nation, has claimed responsibility for almost daily attacks in the remote, dusty northeast of Africa’s most populous nation.

Police said sect gunmen shot dead four people in a bar in the northeastern town of Maiduguri on Monday and killed two more late on Sunday.
“The Boko Haram members went to the beer parlour at about 8pm (1900 GMT Monday) killing three customers and the owner of the joint,” said Abubakar Kabiru, police spokesman for northeast Borno state.

President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday said the heightened security risks in Nigeria were keeping foreign investors from putting funds into sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest economy.

Boko Haram’s attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and intelligence officials have said there is evidence to suggest some members have trained in Niger and have connections with al Qaeda’s North African wing.

The group, whose name means “Western education is sinful”, is not supported by the majority of the Nigeria’s Muslims.