Boko Haram: Ndume has case to answer, FG tells court

Senator insists ex-VP, Sambo, was aware of contact with insurgents

 From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Federal Government insisted yesterday, before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, that Senator Mohammed Ali-Ndume, representing Borno South senatorial district sponsored Boko Haram activities.

Ndume was arraigned before the high court on December 12, 2011, while his trial commenced on July 3, 2012.

When the case came up for hearing, in Abuja, yesterday, the federal government, through a Chief State Counsel, Mrs. G.N. Okafor, said it has enough evidence which linked Ndume directly to Boko Haram.

 She submitted:  “The charge against the defendant has to do with the fact that he rendered support to a terrorist group, the Boko Haram sect. The prosecution has tendered in evidence exhibits P1- P3, which were statements the defendant made by himself. My lord, these statements by the defendant connect him with the charge levelled against him.”

 Ndume’s counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), countered Okafor and argued  that the  totality of evidence the federal government tendered against his client  were not sufficient to warrant the court to compel him to enter defence to the charge.

 Ndume, who admitted making contacts with members of the Boko Haram sect, said former Vice President, Namadi Sambo was aware of the move.

 “My lord, from totality of the evidence, the defendant, having contact with the Boko Haram sect came about when he was acting on behalf of the government. He was head of the presidential team that was set up to look into security challenges in the North East.

“Part of ingredients of the charge was that the defendant failed to disclose information concerning activities of the sect to appropriate authorities. However, my lord, we have demonstrated that the defendant, as a responsible citizen, did everything possible to bring peace and security in the country. He also brought every fact at his disposal, which formed the crux of this charge, to the second highest political office holder in the country,” Tarfa argued.

 In opposing the application, Okafor insisted Ndume has a case to answer.

 “My lord, the defendant has even corroborated the allegation that there was indeed a communication between him and the Boko Haram sect. He also corroborated the allegation by the prosecution, by claiming that such communication existed because he was a member of Presidential Committee on Security Matters, generally on the North East. It is the submission of the prosecution that this defendant was not the only member of that committee.

“The volume of information found on the defendant was so revealing,” Okafor stated.  After calling a total of nine witnesses and tendering five exhibits, the prosecution closed its case against Ndume.

  In the charges preferred against him, Federal Government alleged that he was the one that hitherto furnished the Boko Haram sect with information which aided their terrorist operations in Nigeria.

He was among other things, alleged to have furnished them with the telephone numbers of top government officials and judges, among which included the phone number of the then Attorney General of the Federation, among others.

Justice Kolawole has fixed July 4 to rule on whether or not Ndume should enter his defence to the terrorism charges against him.

The sect was said to have called some of those whose numbers were given to them and threatened to visit them with ‘fire and brimstone’.

 The Federal Government alleged that, though the sect notified the defendant of their intention to attack judges of the Borno State Election Petition Tribunal and the National Assembly, he failed to disclose the information to security agencies, adding that he used an MTN GSM line, 08035998045, to send telephone numbers of certain public officers, including the AGF, to the Boko Haram spokesman for the purpose of sending terrorist text messages to them.

The prosecution earlier tendered a proof of evidence that indicated that Ndume made contacts with Boko Haram sect 73 times.

Though some call logs and three digital video discs (DVDs), containing call-data records, as well as documents containing findings based on investigations carried out by a Special Investigation Panel (SIP) set up by the Department of State Security (DSS), were previously admitted into evidence by the trial court, it was subsequently expunged from the trial record on the order of the Appeal Court in Abuja.

 An alleged accomplice of the lawmaker and self confessed spokesman of the sect, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, was previously jailed for three years after he pleaded guilty to terrorism charges filed against him by the government.

Konduga was said to be the middleman between the sect and Ndume. A Nokia E7 phone which Ndume allegedly used in communicating with Konduga, as well as another Nokia 2700 that belonged to the convict, were since admitted in evidence by trial Justice Kolawole.

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