The Federal High Court sitting in Wawa Cantonment, Kainji, Niger State, on Monday sentenced 35-year-old Haruna Yahaya to 15 years imprisonment for terrorism offences.
Yahaya, whose left arm and left leg are crippled, was convicted for being a member of the proscribed Boko Haram terrorist group and participating in the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014.
He was said to have participated in Boko Haram’s attacks in Chibok, Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State and Gabsuri town in the Damboa Local Government Area of the state.
Yahaya had on Monday pleaded guilty to the two counts preferred against him by the Federal Government, but pleaded for mercy, saying he was forcefully conscripted into the terrorist group.
Yahaya confessed to committing the alleged crimes but said he did so against his will.
“I was threatened that I would be killed if refused to join them,” he said.
He told the court that he was a trader in Damboa and was in his shop when the members of Boko Haram forcefully conscripted him.
Yahaya said on the night of his conscription into the sect, he was forced to be part of the attack on Chibok.
The convict said during the attack, a girl named Mariama pleaded with him to help her to escape but that he told her that he was helpless as he was captured to be part of the attack against his will.
“I told her that if I had a choice I would help them,” he said.
He also said he later had a love affairs with Mariama at the sect’s camp and at a time bought her dresses worth N4,000.
But the prosecution urged the court to convict the defendant as charged.
The prosecution said Yahaya had been with the sect for two years before he was arrested.
“He was carrying out attacks and said he did not know the number of people he had killed,” the prosecution said.
Delivering judgment, the judge said the court was “not fooled” by Yahaya’s story.
The court noted that the convict was “using the misfortune of his handicap to draw sympathy,”adding that everybody has a choice.
The judge thereafter sentenced the convict who had been in detention since 2015 to 15 years imprisonment.
The court ordered that the sentence would commence counting from Monday.