By Ayo Okulaja:

Weeks after the mindless killing of hundreds of residents in Dogo Nahawa village in Plateau State, 20 of the 90 suspects arrested for the crime were yesterday arraigned before a Federal High Court in Jos.

Charges levelled against the suspects, who were arraigned in three different batches as the court’s dock could not contain all of them, included murder, terrorism, arson and maiming. They were also charged with conspiracy to unlawful assembly, economic sabotage, causing death of innocent citizens and unlawful possession of arms.

The suspects, arraigned before the presiding judge, Steven Adah, however all pleaded not guilty to the charge and the judge ordered that they be remanded in prison.

Hundreds of people, mostly women and children, were hacked to death or burned alive in their homes in an early morning raid on Dogon Nahawa village, Jos South local government area on March 8, 2010.

Arraigning the subdued suspects who are mainly Fulani before the court, the Federal Director of Public Prosecution, Alex Adams said the 20 suspects were arrested in connection with the killings and carnage at Dogo Nahawa community.

“The suspects were arrested at different times and locations, and therefore had multiple charges against them,” Mr Adams said.

Counsel to 16 of the suspects, Ahmed Garba, prayed the court to grant them bail saying that, “their offences were bailable ones.” Counsel to the remaining four suspects, H.G Bot, also applied for bail for the suspects.

The judge, in response, told the Counsel to present formal applications for the bails and remanded the suspects in prison. He adjourned the case to the 15th, 20th and 21st of April, 2010 when the case will come up for proper hearing in three batches.

Many more suspects

Speaking on the number of suspects brought to court, Mr Adams said that it was impossible to bring all the 90 suspects to court. “It was not possible to bring all the suspects to court as some of them were arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday,” he said. “We could not get a reproduction warrant to transfer all of them to Jos.” He, however, sought for a short adjustment so that all of the suspects could be brought before the court.

The Nigerian police had announced on March 21 plans to charge 200 people to court for their role in the sectarian clashes that killed hundreds in Plateau State earlier this month and said some of them could be sentenced to death if convicted.

Over 400 victims of the pre-dawn massacre were given a mass burial in three massive graves in the village on March 9, 2010. The attack, which lasted for about two hours, began at about midnight, and the victims were completely unprepared for the fury of the marauders. The intense gunfire and wild use of cutlasses and other metallic weapons left little chance for the victims who were hacked down and burnt as they attempted to escape the massacre.

The attack is widely interpreted as retaliation for early attacks on some Fulani and Hausa settlements in the early days of the crisis.

The crisis between different residents of the previously peaceful city of Jos has been on for close to two years and has led to the deaths of thousands of people and loss of property running into millions of naira.

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