From: Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has quashed terrorism charges brought against former Senate majority leader, Ali Ndume, by the Federal Government, since November 2011.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, in his ruling yesterday, upheld the no case submission made by Ndume on the ground that no prima facie case was established against the senator representing Borno South senatorial district in the Senate.
He was, accordingly, discharged and acquitted by the court.
Justice Kolawole held that the prosecution failed in all fronts to link the defendant with the alleged heinous crime of hoarding information on terrorism activities and sponsoring the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Justice Kolawole, 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 charges against the defendant.
Specifically, the judge said 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 East Part, and also, admitted volunteering information to the Director of the State Security Service (SSS) and former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, on Boko Haram operations.
He added that the prosecution never considered it necessary to invite the named people to give evidence in the trial.
The judge said 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 said from the totality of the evidence of the witnesses, the prosecution failed to give ingredients of the charges that would have warranted the Senator to be compelled by the court to enter his defence in indictment charge.
He 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 spokesperson, Aliyu Umar Konduga, used to communicate with the defendant only revealed text messages on greetings when analysed by the expert.
He said none of the witnesses called by the prosecution gave valuable evidence upon which the defendant could have been linked with the crime.
The judge further said it is a settled law that where doubts arise in a criminal trial, such doubts must be resolved in favour of the defendant.
“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,” he added.
Justice Kolawole, therefore, struck out the four-count charges and as well discharged Senator Ndume from the alleged crime.
The judge also ordered that the traveling passport the defendant submitted to the Deputy Director Litigation of the Court should be, forthwith, released to him.
The federal government had, in 2011, arraigned Ndume on the four-count criminal charge of hoarding information in respect of his contact with the Boko Haram sect and for also allegedly sponsoring terrorism act in the North Eastern part of the country.
However, at the close of the prosecution’s case, Ndume, through his counsel, Ricky Tarfa (SAN) on June 6, 2017, made a no case submission and prayed the court to set him free from the criminal charges against him on the ground that he was not in anyway linked with the crime.