A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck out the terrorism charges instituted against a former Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, in 2011.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, in his judgment on Tuesday, upheld Ndume’s no-case-submission on the grounds that the prosecution was unable to establish any prima facie case against the defendant.
The judge held that the prosecution failed to lead any evidence to prove any of the ingredients of the four counts anchored on the provisions of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011.
The Federal Government had, through the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, filed the charges dated November 30, 2011, against the senator currently representing the Borno South Senatorial District.
The senator was on December 12, 2011, arraigned on four counts of terrorism charges under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011.
The prosecution had alleged a link between Ndume and a suspected member of Boko Haram, Ali Konduga, who had since been convicted and sentenced for terrorism charges.
Ndume was accused of, among other offences, sponsoring the Boko Haram sect, and providing logistics support to the violent sect.
He was also accused of providing to the sect the phone numbers of top public officers, including the then AGF, for the purpose of sending terrorism messages to them.
He was also accused of failing to disclose the information about the sect alleged to be in his (Ndume’s) possession to law officers and law enforcement agencies within the shortest practicable time.
But upholding the defendant’s no-case submission on Tuesday, Justice Kolawole held that the prosecution failed to debunk the defence by Ndume in the three extra-judicial statements which the senator made to the Department of State Service that he came in contact with some members of the sect while acting on behalf of the Federal Government in the presidential committee set up to look at the security challenges in the North-East part of the country.
The judge held that the prosecution also failed to call Konduga, still serving jail terms , even for the purpose of giving evidence as to the period he communicated with Ndume, to enable the court to form a view as to whether the communication between the Senator and Konduga was before or during the time the federal lawmaker was serving on the security committee.
The judge also made specific reference to the content of Ndume’s statements where the senator had claimed that, contrary to the prosecution’ case, he disclosed the information he had about the sect to the then Vice-President and the then Director-General of the Department of State Service.
Justice Kolawole said the prosecution failed to call any of the then Vice President and the ex-DG of DSS for the purpose of debunking the Senator’s claim.
The judge also ruled that the Information Technology expert, Dr. Peter Olayiwola, called by the prosecution as its fifth witness to exploit the content of Ndume’s and Konduga’s phones, was unable to perform the task due to a technical problem.
He added that with the order of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on December 17, 2013, expunging certain key exhibits tendered by the prosecution from the records of the court (the trial court) and with the gaps in the prosecution’s case earlier highlighted, there was nothing left for Ndume to defend.