A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday fixed July 4 for ruling on the no-case submission filed by a former Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, seeking an order terminating his trial on terrorism charges preferred against him by the Federal Government.
Ndume, through his no-case submission, is seeking an order discharging him of the charges, including the allegation of supporting Boko Haram, and failure to disclose material information arising from his alleged relationship with the sect.
His no-case submission was anchored on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to lead evidence linking him to the alleged offences.
In denying the charges on Tuesday, Ndume explained how he came in contact with the sect and how he disclosed the necessary information about his interaction with the sect to the then Vice-President and the then Director General of the Department of State Services.
But the Federal Government insisted on Tuesday that it had led sufficient evidence showing Ndume’s complicity in the alleged offences, thus the need for him to offer some explanations.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole fixed July 4 for ruling on the arguments after hearing both the defence and the prosecution counsel on Tuesday.
The Federal Government had on December 12, 2011, arraigned Ndume on four counts of terrorism.
The prosecution had alleged a link between Ndume and a suspected member of Boko Haram, Ali Konduga, who had since been convicted and sentenced on terrorism charges.
Ndume was accused of, among others, sponsoring the Boko Haram sect, and failing to disclose the phone number of Konduga, which was alleged to be in his (Ndume’s) possession.
He had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The prosecution commenced trial on July 3, 2012 and closed its case on June 22, 2016, after calling a total of nine witnesses.
The prosecution also tendered five exhibits two of which were phones with which Ndume allegedly communicated with the Boko Haram member.
Justice Kolawole had adjourned until July 9, 2016, for the defendant to open his defence.
But instead of opening his defence, the defendant, through his counsel, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), filed a no-case submission on August 16, 2016, arguing that he should be discharged on the grounds that the prosecution failed to adduce any prima facie evidence linking him to the alleged offences.
The no-case submission was anchored on section 303 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, among other provisions of the same law.
Adopting his client’s addresses on Tuesday, Tarfa insisted that an analysis of the phone conversation between Ndume and Konduga failed to disclose any fact warranting the senator from Borno State to offer any defence.
He explained that Ndume’s contact with the Boko Haram insurgents came about when the senator was a member of the Presidential Committee on Security Matters in the North-East.
The lawyer said, “We have taken the counts from one to four and have analysed them.
“Clearly, there is nothing in the evidence led by the prosecution that will necessitate the defendant to be called upon to enter his defence in the charge.
“Clearly, from the totality of the evidence placed before the court, the defendant coming into contact with the Boko Haram sect came about when he was acting on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the presidential committee set up to look at the security challenges in the northeastern part of the country.
“The evidence is clear and has been confirmed through cross-examination of the prosecution witnesses.
“We have shown how the alleged analysis of the mobile phone did not disclose any fact which will necessitate the defendant to defend the charge.
“Clearly, having regards to the four counts before the court, we have analysed the ingredients of the counts and shown how the prosecution has failed to proffer any evidence in support of the ingredients in the four counts.”
Opposing the no-case submission, the Federal Government’s lawyer, Mrs. G.N Okafor, argued that there was sufficient evidence led by the prosecution linking Ndume to the alleged crimes, thus the need for him to offer some explanations through his defence.
She said the defendant had not denied communicating with the Boko Haram member.
She maintained that the defendant rather corroborated the communication in his statements tendered as exhibits before the court.
She also indicated that there could not have been any legitimate basis for Ndume to communicate with Boko Haram members as he was not the only member of the presidential committee on the security challenges in the North-East.
Justice Kolawole fixed 2pm on July 4 for ruling.
Source: (Punch Newspaper )