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Court Sent Pry 3 Pupils to Prison Over Jenjo Crisis


The Accused Persons are not wealthy. They are not children of anyone powerful. They are simply Poor Primary School pupils between the ages of 10 -12, who were returning from school, the day they were arrested by the Military alongside 13 others over crisis rocking the Jenjo community in Karim -Lamido local government area of Taraba State on who owns and controls the Mihu shrine and forest among the three clans that made up its kingdom.

They were formally arraigned before the Chief Magistrate Court 4, Jalingo, Taraba State capital, by Prosecutor, David Wankari, for the offence of Attempt to commit Culpable Homicide among other charges in connection with the crisis that rocked Jenjo Kingdom where two persons were allegedly brutally injured.

As the case came up for mentioning,  the Court Clerk called out their names, and one after the other, they came out, cladded in inmates wears and stood up in the dock visibly traumatized, put up their right hand palms on their chest and swore to tell the truth and nothing but.

While in the dock, the trial Judge observed  their young faces to decide for himself what kind of children they are.

Then, the court clerk, read out the three count - charge filed against them which include: Criminal Conspiracy contrary to section 97 of the Penal Code, Voluntary Causing Hurt without Provocation contrary to section 246 of the Penal Code, and Attempt to commit Culpable Homicide contrary to 229 of the Penal Code. All punishable by law.

After reading the contents of the first information, FIR, the Counsel to the Accused Persons, Solomon Garba Esq. contended that the idea of holding charge as it's the case in the matter before the court is unknown to any law in Nigeria. 

He, therefore, urged the Court to strike out the case on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction  especially with due regards to the nature of the offences alleged to have been committed and the ages of the children alleged to have committed the offence.

However, the trial Judge, Hon. Yazidu Muhammad, was of the view that although the children involved might have been sent by their adult accomplices to foment trouble, this court lacks jurisdiction to trial the case.

Against this backdrop, the Counsel to the Accused Persons, Garba, then applied for the accused persons be granted bail. However, the Court ruled that the case file be submitted  to the office of the Director of Public Prosecution in the Ministry of Justice for an expeditious legal advice, adding that the court lacks the jurisdiction to grant the application as prayed by defense counsel.

The case was adjourned to 16 July, 2021, for further mention while all the Accused Persons including the children were ordered to be remanded in a Correctional Centre by the trial Judge, Magistrate Yazidu Muhammad.

The children became part of a numbing statistics of many legally presumed innocent persons languishing in Police and Correctional Service Facilities across the country.

When our Correspondent sought to know from the children why they were arrested, after the court session while they awaited the prison van to convey them back to Correctional Centre, in tears they said:

 "we know nothing, we were just returning  from school when the Military arrested us near our father's house. We didn't know what happened at home. We were in school that day before we were arrested and brought to Jalingo"

Three clans that constitute the Jenjo kingdom which has its ancestral headquarters at Jen, include, the Saredau clan, the Saretunde clan and the Jakka clan are at logger head over the ownership of a Traditional Forest and custody of its traditional staff, Mou. 

A State lawmaker from the community is accused of politically influencing the case against the accused persons. 

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