ad he succeeded, the 25-year old Faruk Umar Abdulmutallab would have made history of becoming the first suicide bomber to come out of Nigeria. Unfortunately for him, the bomb he was carrying in his clothing refused to go off as the ignition mechanism imbedded into it had failed. A fellow passenger, Jasper Schuringa, a Dutch national tackled Abdulmutallab and subdued him while flight attendants used fire extinguishers to douse the flames.
An explosive device consisting of a six-inch packet of the Plastic Powder Explosive, PETN and an acid syringe detonator were found on Adulmutallab. After a trial process which lasted over two years, the mandatory punishment for Abdulmutallab, the well educated son of Alhaji Umaru Mutallab, a banker and businessman who was described by The Times International magazine in 2009 as one of the richest men in Africa, was never in doubt after he surprised the courtroom and pleaded guilty to all charges on the second day of his trial.
The ‘underwear bomber,’ as he has come to be known, confessed to attempting to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253, from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009. He was convicted of an eight-count criminal charge, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 289 people. For the offences, Abdulmutallab bagged life in prison without the possibility of parole by a federal court.
But interestingly, his sentencing has been generating concerns especially after his family released a media statement seeking a review of the sentence. The statement from the family is seeking the attention of the United States Justice Department and the Nigerian government to take another look at the sentence with a view of lessening it. "We also appeal to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to engage with the American government to ensure that a review is made to show justice in accordance with the circumstances of Umar Farouk’s case.
"This was so because even though he had gone missing by that time and there were concerns about his situation, he was nevertheless the last person anyone who knew him would link to such actions. We are grateful to God that the unfortunate incident of that date did not result in any injury or death. We pray for a more peaceful world," said the statement.
But the compassionate appeal from the Abdulmutalab’s became a matter of public debate which has been viewed differently by most Nigerians from religious and geographical perspectives. A Kaduna-based human activist, Shehu Sani is advocating that a lighter sentence should be given to Umar Farouk. According to him, this would give a deserved chance for the convict to be rehabilitated once set free. He believes that the blame is with the terrorists who took advantage of Abdulmutalab’s ignorance. Sani argued that young Abdulmutalab was coerced into carrying the explosive device on board
Anthony Chambers, an attorney assigned to help Abdulmutallab, said a mandatory life sentence was cruel and unconstitutional punishment for a crime that did not physically hurt anyone except Abdulmutallab. The US government said "unsuccessful terrorist attacks still engender fear in the broader public, which, after all, is one of their main objectives."
But Edegbini, a lawyer said no court would enter guilty against an accused person and fail to bring down the full weight of the law on that person. He said the case was made very easy for prosecutors after Abdulmutalab’s court confessions and a show of no remorse. He pointed out that the prosecutors said in a court filing of Abdulmutallab that he was an unrepentant would-be mass murderer, who viewed his crimes as divinely inspired and blessed, and who viewed himself as under a continuing obligation to carry out such crimes. Edegbini explained that the US government’s policy on terrorism viewed such crimes as serious and would not take it likely with anyone found wanting including young Abdulmutallab.
In October, Abdulmutallab said the bomb in his underwear was a "blessed weapon" to avenge poorly treated Muslims around the world.
For a civil servant, Justine Okafor; "in the era of a violent Boko Haram group, it is expected that Nigerians should stand up against any form of terrorism. Morris Ekeh said the action of Abdulmutallab had set the pace for terrorism back home in Nigeria following the springing up of Boko Haram.
Analysts said that Abdulmutallab’s trial had exposed the lie that poverty stimulated terrorism. This is because he was raised initially in an affluent neighborhood of Kaduna, and at the family home in Nairobi, Kenya. As a young boy, Adulmutallab attended the Essence International School in Kaduna, as well as classes at the Rabiatu Mutallib Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies. He also attended high school at the British International School in Lomé, the capital of Togo, a popular private school in West Africa.
Abdulmutallab is known to be a devout Muslim and for preaching about Islam to his schoolmates. While at school, he was nicknamed Alfa, which is a term for Muslim clerics and "Pope" both due to his piety. A teacher, John McGuinness, described Abdulmutallab as "incredibly polite and very hardworking." He was described as a "dream student" by his history teacher, Michael Rimmer.
In a newspaper interview, Rimmer said that Abdulmutallab had defended the Taliban during classroom discussions of their social policies, and their destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Rimmer described Abdulmutallab’s family as "wonderful" and said he had been fond of Abdulmutallab.