Abubakar, also known as Kerewa, was said to have died due to the injuries he sustained during a gun duel with policemen in his bid to evade arrest last year.
The deceased as well as Mohammed Yusuf, Edwin George, Musa Maidabara, and Ernest Uduefe, was to be arraigned before Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.
But the arraignment could not proceed due to Abubakar’s death, which the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, announced to the judge during the proceedings.
Alilu of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, said, “This charge was filed on October 7, 2017, but on October 24, we were informed of the demise of the first accused who died as a result of injuries he sustained while in the course of exchanging gunfire with the police.”
Justice Quadri directed Alilu, an Assistant Chief State Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation, to amend the charges to reflect the new set of defendants.
He then adjourned until December 14 for the arraignment of the surviving defendants.
In the five counts filed against the defendants, the prosecution alleged that the late Abubakar and the four other defendants took hostage of Margaret along with others in her entourage – Odion Anthony, Ngozi Omoile, Uju Anthony and Gladys Omoile – at Ugoneki village, along the Benin/Asaba Expressway on September 28, 2016.
The AGF filed five counts under the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013 against the alleged kidnappers.
The defendants were said to have demanded N100m ransom from the victims’ family members, but upon negotiation, reduced the ransom to N80m, which they allegedly took before releasing the victims.
All the five defendants were named in counts one to three which have to do with conspiracy and hostage taking.
But the trio of George, Maidabara, and Uduefe, were accused in count four of aiding and abetting the act of hostage taking.