BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – An Abuja Federal High Court has discharged former Majority Leader of the 8th Senate, Senator Ali Ndume from the four count allegations of terrorism preferred against him in November 2011 by the Federal Government.
The Court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole ruled that there was no prima facie case established against Senator Ndume, who represents Borno South Senatorial District in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.
Delivering judgment in the no case submission argued by Rickey Tarfa (SAN), counsel to Ndume, Justice Kolawole ruled that the prosecution failed in all fronts to link the defendant with the alleged heinous crime of hoarding information on terrorism activities and sponsorship the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
The trial judge while striking out all the four count charges faulted the prosecution in the failure to call eminent personalities to give evidence in respect of the charge against the defendant.
Specifically, the Justice Kolawole said that while the defendant admitted having contact with Boko Haram sect as a result of his appointment as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North Eastern part of the country and also admitted volunteering information to the Director of the State Security Service (SSS) and former Vice President, Namadi Sambo on Boko Haram operations, the prosecution never considered it necessary to invite the named people to give evidence in the trial as required by law.
He therefore declared that the failure of the prosecution to invite those personalities to give evidence was fatal to the case as it hindered the prosecution from discharging the burden of proof.
Justice Kolawole further ruled that from the totality of the evidence of the witnesses, the prosecution failed to give ingredients of the charges that would have warranted Ndume to be compelled by the court to enter his defence in indictment charge.
The judge said the evidence of the Information Technology (IT), expert. Mr. Peter Olayiwola did not, in any way help the prosecution because the content of the phone of one Boko Haram spokespersons, Aliyu Umar Konduga used to communicate with the defendant only revealed text messages on greetings when analyzed by the expert and not on crime sponsorship.
Justice Kolawole said none of the witnesses called by the prosecution gave valuable evidence upon which the defendant could have been linked with the crime, adding that it is a settled law that where doubts arise in a criminal trial, such doubts must be resolved in favour of the defendant.
According to Justic Kolawole; “What is more, the defendant in this matter admitted having contact with the Boko Haram sect but that he did so as a result of his appointment as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security challenges in the North Eastern part of the country.
“In the same vein, the defendant in the three different statements he made to the DSS upon his arrest made it clear that he volunteered the information on his contact with the terrorism group to the Director of the State Security Service in the National Assembly and also to the Vice President for their information.
“It is worrisome that despite the fact that the defendant mentioned names of those he volunteered information to, the prosecution never considered it necessary to call any of the named people to confirm the claim of the defendant, this to me left a big gap in the case of the prosecution.”
Accordingly, Justice Kolawole struck out the four count charges and discharged Senator Ndume from the alleged crime just as he ordered that the traveling passport the defendant submitted to the Deputy Director Litigation of the Court as part of the bail conditions should be forthwith released to him.
The Federal Government had in November 2011, arraigned Senator Ndume on a four count charge of criminal hoarding of information in respect of his contact with the Boko Haram sect and for allegedly sponsoring terrorism in the North Eastern part of the country.