A Federal High Court in Jos, on Monday freed a suspect, Mrs. Hindatu Sirajo, held for the disappearance of Plateau College students, Mr. Darlington Davou and Mr. Steve Rowland Ronku since March 2018.
The students of Plateau State College of Health Technology, Zawang, Jos are thought to be abducted sometimes between March 12th and 17th, 2018 when they were conspicuously missing from school during examinations.
The case reported to B Division of the Plateau State Police Command was believed to have been abandoned, forcing parents of the missing kids to engage the now dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad in Bukuru.
Mr. Davou was reported to have called his mother on April 3rd, 2018 using an unknown MTN line.
He was said to have hurriedly uttered in a trembling voice, “mama don’t cry” three times in Berom language before going off the phone after a brief disturbance that suggesting the phone was snatched from him.
Relatives say they called the line back but heard a different male voice which warned that it was a wrong line before the phone went off.
The Police Special Anti Robbery Squad in Jos reportedly tracked the phone line to Mrs. Hindatu Sirajo in Sokoto, Northwestern Nigeria.
A female voice had reportedly warned family members calling Mr. Davou’s phone line in Hausa language, that they should stop disturbing.
Mrs. Hindatu, the prime suspect was traced and arrested after families of the missing kids facilitated the transportation of Police agents from Jos to Sokoto but was soon released by the B Division Police authorities in Jos.
An independent cyber investigation sponsored by families of the missing students to obtain call logs for the phone number used by missing Davou to reach his mother, adding to persistent pressure from families reawoke the case in 2019.
However, only records submitted by the students’ families were relied upon to hurry the case to court.
After trial with the accused on detention at the Jos Correctional Service Centre, presiding Judge, Justice Dorcas Agishi dismissed the suit for lack of sufficient evidence.
Passing her judgment at the Federal High Court 1, Jos, the Judge pointed to “loopholes” in the arguments of the government prosecutors, saying, “the needful has not been done properly”.
According to her, to prove a kidnap case, prosecutors needed to have established that the victims were seen taken away without their consent and without any lawful excuse, which they failed.
“The evidence provided on this matter is very scanty to enable the court take a reasonable decision in favour of the prosecution,” said Justice Agishi.
The Judge opined that the disappearance of the students was “sad” as it causes “emotional trauma”, but insisted that investigation on the case was “very porous”.
Mrs. Agishi hoped that the affected families find proper “justice” on the matter.
Defense council, Barr. Nantok Dashuwar of G.S Pwul (SAN) and Co. said the judgment was victory for justice.
The prosecution council, Barr. Gideon Zi, of the Plateau State Ministry of Justice said there was no likelihood of an appeal.
Some family members however say they will seek proper council on the possibility of an appeal, through private prosecutors.