Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
For the second time this week, embattled Senator Aliyu Mohammed Ndume who is standing trial on a four count charge bordering on financing and provision of logistics to dreaded Boko Haram sect on Friday suffered a another set back in his trial at a federal high court sitting in Abuja.
The court decided on admitting as exhibits the 3 DVDs tendered by the state security service, SSS.
Ndume’s lawyer,Mr. Rickey Tarfa, a senior advocate of Nigeria had objected to the admissibility of the DVDs on the basis of non-compliance with the Evidence Act, particularly Sections 84 (1) and 102, which provide for the certification of public documents made by public officials.
Mr. Tarfa had also observed that the DVDs were computer generated secondary evidence and not the original copies. Citing section 84 of the Evidence Act, Tarfa argued that for the materials to be admitted in evidence, that the Act provides that a statement must be prepared to authenticate the veracity of such material and pointed out that there is no such statement accompanying the DVDs which the prosecution wants the court to admit in evidence.
According to the senior advocate, ” the absence of any statement showing that these copies are original and authenticated copies makes them inadmissible. There ought to be an explanation about the unavailability of the original copies as what is sought to be tendered are secondary evidence. There is also no foundation as to why a secondary evidence is being sought to be tendered”
He subsequently opposed the admission of the DVDs as exhibits in the matter.
However, the trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, while ruling on the admissibility of the DVDs noted that viewing or listening to the contents of the DVDs will serve the court no purpose if they are not admitted in evidence.
He also disagreed with Ndume’s lawyer that the materials are public documents as they are not such that can be accessed by any member of the public.
According to the court, “exhibits P5 and P5 (A), which are the handsets confiscated from senator Ndume and convicted former spokesman of Boko Haram sect, are the real and primary exhibits whose contents were downloaded in the 3 DVDs, they are not public documents and do not require certification, more so when the maker of the material is here before the court giving testimony as prosecution witness 3″
Further more, the court noted that there is no dispute that the maker of the 3 DVDs is the PW 3 who generate them using tool kits in the exercise of forensic investigations.
The court held that the testimony of the witness is sufficient proof of the authenticity of the material.
“I see no merit in the opposition of the defence in the admissibility of the DVDs, it serves the interest to admit them in evidence as exhibits in this trial so as to avoid a disconnection with the primary evidence already admitted as exhibits”
The 3 DVDs contain details communication between the senator and the convicted former spokesman of the dreaded sect.