Terrorism Trial: Court rejects witnesses against Ndume

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Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

The ongoing trial of a serving senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before an Abuja Federal High Court on allegations of providing logistics and funding to the dreaded Islamic terrorist sect, Boko Haram, suffered a set back on Monday as the court rejected the admission of two prosecution witnesses brought by the State Security Service, SSS, to testify against the senator.

Senator Aliyu Mohammed Ndume represents Borno state at the senate and was charged for allegedly having and maintaining links with the Boko Haram sect.

Soon as the trial resumed, prosecution counsel, Mr. Thompson Olatigbe, informed the Court that his witnesses were in court and ready to testify. Ndume’s lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, a senior advocate of Nigeria, stoutly opposed the move by Mr. Olatigbe to bring in witnesses not listed in the proof of evidence to testify in the case.

He contended that the witnesses who were operatives of the state security service, SSS, were not listed in the proof of evidence before the court and argued that Mr. Olatigbe used the leverage of being a government counsel to stampede the court with unlisted witnesses. He urged the court to reject the move by the prosecutor to smuggle in persons not initially included as witnesses in the matter.

The court presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole, accordingly refused to allow Mr Aliyu Usman, one of the SSS operatives to testify on account Mr. Tarfa’s objection.

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Justice Kolawole expressed his displeasure over the unprecedented manner in which the trial is being executed by the prosecution team led by Mr. Thompson Olatigbe. He wondered how Mr. Olatigbe had hoped to get unlisted witnesses to come and give testimonies against an accused, an action, the court further noted, was against the rules of the court.

The Judge also berated the prosecution team for their lackadaisical attitude in prosecuting the matter and observed that from the onset of the trial, that it had been the court which had been prompting the prosecutor, in a criminal case which requires diligent prosecution.

Justice Kolawole also held that justice is not only meant for the accuser, but that both the accused and the public require justice.

“In the light of today’s anomaly, the Court is compelled to grant leave to the prosecutor to file additional proof of evidence to include the names of the witnesses. The prosecution counsel is hereby given 14 days within which to file additional proof of evidence and serve counsel to the accused person” justice Kolawole ordered.

Consequently, the matter was adjourned to the 11th and 12th December for continuation of trial.