AN Abuja Chief Magistrates Court yesterday slammed a three-year jail term on the self-confessed spokesman of the fiery Islamic sect, Boko Haram, Ali Umar Konduga (a.k.a Al-Zawahiri) after he pleaded guilty to a two-count charge of felony, criminal breach of public trust and intimidation.
In a summary trial after he entered a guilty plea the penultimate week, Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi convicted Konduga in line with Section 318 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC). However, the Chief Magistrate reserved his decision on Konduga’s sentencing sequel to a request made by the Prosecuting Counsel, C. I Osagie. Osagie had predicated his request to defer the convict’s sentencing on the need for SSS to conclude investigation and to establish an undisputed link between the convict and the 1st accuse person, Senator Ali Ndume who is alleged to be the financier of Boko Haram.
Before the sentence was passed, a mild drama ensued when, an attempt made by one Barr. Regina Okotie-Eboh to raise objection to the jurisdiction of the court to try the accuse person was stopped by the Magistrate who held that the court was functus officio (bound by its decision), adding that if the court must hear her, it must be via a written submission.
She said: “The court has the right to severe the trial of the accuse person; the court has the right to strike out the First Information Report against any of the accuse persons, in line with the provisions of the CPC, more so that counsel was in court but did not raise any objection.
“In view of the plea for leniency and the fact that Section 302 of the CPC provides for a maximum of five years imprisonment, the court hereby sentences you to three years of imprisonment, and by virtue of section 303 of the same code, the convict will be kept at the pleasure of the government”, Oyewumi held.
She further stated that, the court was persuaded by the argument of the SSS that, by virtue of section 302 and 303 of the CPC, the convict should be kept in the custody of the SSS, due to what prosecuting counsel, C.I Osagie referred to as “the heightened security situation, as it relates to prison break in the country.”
In the meantime, the convicted spokesman of the Boko Haram, Konduga has refuted claim by his father, Alhaji Sanda Konduga that he (Konduga) is mentally troubled.
Responding to questions from journalists shortly after he was sentenced, he said: “I want the government to release our members that have been imprisoned as an incentive to bring the crisis to an end by laying down their arms…
“Even though my father has a big responsibility towards knowing me according to the holy Quran, I know myself and I know I’ve not been insane before. In fact, I’ve never been to a psychiatric centre before.”
The SSS had stated in its First Information Report (FIR) that, “on diverse dates between September 15 and December 3, 2011 in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Maiduguri in Borno state, Mohammed Ali Ndume and Ali Umar Konduga , did conspire to commit felony to wit (1) breach of official trust in that Mohammed Ali Ndume disclosed classified information by anonymous communication and the second accused person did intimidate some senior pblic officials including the AGF, thereby committed offence contrary to section 79, 98 and 398 of the Penal Code and punishable under section 99 (b) and section 398 of the same Act.”