Boko Haram: Court To Strike Out Suit Against Ndume | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Boko Haram: Court To Strike Out Suit Against Ndume

Posted: Jun 10, 2015 at 4:17 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

?By Joe Nwankwo, Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, June 10, 2015, threatened to strike out the suit brought against Senator Ali Ndume over allegations of sponsoring the Boko Haram for want of diligent prosecution.

The court presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole cautioned that should there be another adjournment at the behest of the Federal Government he would have no other option than to strike ourt the suit.

The trial of Ndume was stalled on Wednesday, June 10, 2015, as the prosecution failed to produce its witness in court.

The prosecution was expected to call its witness in continuation of trial in the case after the matter was adjourned on April 29, 2015.

At the resumed hearing, the prosecution witness was to give evidence based on the call data other inputs on mobile phones tender as exhibits before the court.

However, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. G. N. Okafor, informed the court that its “expert witness” had taken ill and was unable to be in court.

As a result, she sought for an adjournment to enable her produce the witness at the next adjourned date.

Reacting to the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, the defence counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN), expressed displeasure at the request and left the application at the court’s discretion.

Delivering a bench ruling on counsel submissions, Justice Kolawole aligned himself  with Tarfa’s position.

He said: “The opportunity for today’s proceedings was dashed because the prosecution suddenly took ill and is unable to come to court.

“Because there is no medical report produced to support the claim, I found the excuse of ill-health almost improbable.

“But I have already indicated that I will oblige the prosecution the adjournment sought,” he said.

Justice Kolawole, however, warned that in the event that the prosecution would be constrained to make another application for adjournment, it should be prepared to persuade the court to grant such request its favour.

He noted further that it was mindful of exercising its judicial discretion in the matter owing to the political status of the accused person who is a serving senator.

The judge described the Nigerian society as “incredulous”, as it would read meanings into the court’s decision if the matter were to be struck out or the defence closed, assuring that the court would not be deterred by such permutations to indicate a proper exercise of a judicial discretion which it has.

The matter was adjourned till July 2, 2015 for continuation of trail.

Ndume, a serving Senator from Borno State, was charged with terrorism-related offences before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Ndume was arraigned before Justice Kolawole on December 12, 2013 on a four-count charge by the Department of State Services (DSS).

He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Ndume is also accused of sponsoring the Boko Haram sect, and failing to disclose the cell phone number of Konduga, which was alleged to be in his (Ndume’s) possession.

In the course of the trial last year, the prosecution, through its third witness, tendered on December 11 and 14, 2012 some call logs and three digital video discs (DVDs), containing call-data records intended to prove the allegation that Ndume had interactions with some Boko Haram members.

Also admitted were documents containing findings based on the investigations carried out by a Special Investigation Panel (SIP) set up by the DSS on the case.

A prosecution witness told the trial court that there were 73 instances of communication between Ndume and Konduga.

A Nokia E7 phone allegedly belonging to Ndume was said to have been used in communicating with Konduga, whose phone identity the SSS gave as Nokia 2700.

Despite Ndume’s argument that the items marked P7, P8, P8a and P8b were inadmissible, the trial judge admitted them in evidence, a development that prompted Ndume’s two appeals.